Apple researching automatic FaceTime camera selection

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With the growing number of handsets – including the iPhone – which include both front and rear-facing cameras, there is that decision during FaceTime calls and videoconferencing on where the focus should be: the caller or the subject? Now comes word Apple wants to automate that question, using cues to switch between the two video streams.

In a just-published patent application, the iPhone maker proposes software that can select the front or rear camera by watching for moving lips or listening for speech. The invention could come in handy for the growing denizens of news people becoming their own photographers, as well as creating better family vacation flicks…

Although modern smartphones are able to handle two simultaneous video streams, the data would overwhelm most broadband connections. Because of that limit, handsets such as the iPhone provide the option for users to manually switch between the two video sources.

Apple’s patent application, highlighted by AppleInsider, is┬átitled ‘Automatic video stream selection’ and strives to adds some flexibility to the process, giving the user two basic scenarios: report mode and interview mode.


In the first scenario, the camera begins streaming from the rear-facing camera, switching to the iPhone operating when he or she begins talking. When neither speech or lip movement can be detected, the iPhone’s camera returns to the report’s subject.

This would seem ideal for vacation videos.

The other scenario is called ‘interview mode’ in which the video focus switches depending on whether the camera operator or the subject is doing the talking. In the case of a reporter turned iPhone videographer, an on-camera question could be asked, followed by the interview subject’s response.

The patent application also lets you store the video conversation or upload it via Wi-Fi, should a cellular connection be unavailable. It’s uncertain when this tech might come to fruition, if at all.