Apple Developing 3D Camera

Image via Apple

Earlier this week, Apple Inc. filed three patent applications, revealing that they’re planning to build a camera system that would enable users to capture images and reconstruct them in a three-dimensional model. The patents that were published by the US Patent and Trademark Office are the following:

  • Image Capture Using Three-dimensional Reconstruction
  • Systems, Methods and Computer-readable Media for Placing an Asset on a Three-dimensional Model
  • Systems, Methods and Computer-readable Media for Integrating a Three-dimensional Asset with a Three-dimensional Model

More about the Patent Applications

The first application refers to capturing 3D images and notes that existing 3D sensors can estimate the distance of objects in an image. However, it cannot produce an accurate 3D shape or depth of the object. That’s because such sensors are incapable of differentiating the size of an object that’s positioned either near or far from the sensor.

Thus, the patent application suggested using three sensors to capture polarized and non-polarized objects. The sensors will be combined with a processing model that would derive the image’s depth information.

On the other hand, another potential method suggests that an image sensor, with a polarized filter, will be coupled with two sensors that can capture luminance images. The processor would then calculate the image’s depth information.

The next two patent applications describe the purpose of capturing 3D images. According to the files, the three-dimensional camera system could be used to scan a user’s face and reconstruct their virtual 3D avatar. Also illustrated in the application is a Photo Booth-like user interface that scans a user’s face, and then automatically produces a virtual representation of him or her. The user can customize his or her avatar afterwards.

Apple’s 3D Camera System, Posing a “Resolutionary” Future

The 3D camera is said to apply to both still photo and video. Furthermore, it will have facial gesturing recognition, in addition to facial recognition only. Although it seems late for Apple to release a 3D camera for its devices, this will definitely distinguish their products in viewing three-dimensional images that could be best appreciated using their Retina Display.

Last year, it should be recalled that Apple proposed an avatar creation tool. In fact, one application was even described to automatically generate an avatar that’s based on user image. The company’s repeated interest in enabling users to create their virtual avatars can be attributed to the company’s Game Center service for iOS. The gaming service is set to arrive to Mac devices that run on OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion.

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