Front-facing video camera spotted in Apple patent application

Front-facing video camera spotted in Apple patent application

Summary: MacRumors unearthed two patent applications filed by Apple in the past couple of weeks that indicate the company is researching motion-aware interfaces for the iPhone.It works like this, the iPhone would be able to detect when you're moving (via GPS or the built-in accelerometers) and adapt the interface accordingly.

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MacRumors unearthed two patent applications filed by Apple in the past couple of weeks that indicate the company is researching motion-aware interfaces for the iPhone.

It works like this, the iPhone would be able to detect when you're moving (via GPS or the built-in accelerometers) and adapt the interface accordingly. If implemented, your iPhone would know when you're in motion and could enlarge the size of on-screen controls so that they're easier to see and to tap.

Given the government's new found propensity for technology, what happens if states require that Apple disable the screen completely while in motion to prevent users from operating their iPhones while driving? I admit that it's a bit draconian, but it could happen.

What's more interesting, however is item #180 in the diagram above from Apple's patent application 20090100384 titled "VARIABLE DEVICE GRAPHICAL USER INTERFACE." A MacRumors forum member notes that #180 is a front-facing video camera. The patent text reads:

The mobile device 100 can also include a camera lens and sensor 180. In some implementations, the camera lens and sensor 180 can be located on the back surface of the mobile device 100. The camera can capture still images and/or video.

A forward-facing video camera would be incredibly useful on the iPhone and would open the device to an entirely new world of video-based communications. Imagine being able to video chat in iChat from your iPhone, like you can now with the desktop version of iChat. I'm sure that Skype for iPhone could be revved to handle video calls like it currently does on the desktop. Live video streaming is currently available from the iPhone's rear-facing camera with Qik but it requires jailbreaking.

As with anything on a mobile phone the issue will come down to bandwidth, specifically latency. You'll undoubtedly need 3G or Wi-Fi to be able to send and received live video, but will AT&T allow it on their already-saturated network? Will they charge extra for the service? Good questions indeed.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility

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18 comments
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  • Wow, Apple just invented the front-facing video camera!!

    Cool! I sure wish someone else had thought of putting a front facing video camera in a cell phone but nope, that's never happened before. Congrats Apple for inventing this!!
    NonZealot
    • I just wonder how long before

      it goes to market?
      xXSpeedzXx
      • Apple is typically 5 years behind the rest

        So it should be here quite soon.
        NonZealot
    • Now I could have sworn...

      ...that I saw this on a phone just a few months ago.

      Anyway Apple's patents are nothing short of ridiculous.
      storm14k
      • Did the phone have an Apple logo on it?

        You do realize, don't you, that if it doesn't have an Apple logo on it, it wasn't implemented properly. It might look like it was front facing but it probably actually shot to the side just a little.
        NonZealot
        • What's Really Trick

          What's really trick is the camera on my LG Gimmephone. It normally faces backward, but when you open the clamshell, it faces the other way! Hard to believe a free phone could be so versatile, ain't it?
          Snagglegaster-19929872174467528481394836508114
      • Nintendo DSi .....

        Umm.. Even the Nintendo DSi has a forward facing camera now... Seriously? Apple? Come On.
        notlehs
      • All Patents are rediculous

        Let's face it. Let everyone compete on implimentation
        ajv123
    • Cool. I'm surprised that a company like

      HTC didn't think of that first :)
      AllKnowingAllSeeing
  • Front?? Back??

    To quote the article:
    <<The mobile device 100 can also include a camera lens and sensor 180. In some implementations, the camera lens and sensor 180 can be located on the back surface of the mobile device 100.>>

    Is it just me or is the "Back surface" of the iPhone the screen. Most people I know consider the "Front" is the side that faces them and the "Back" faces away from them. I guess the "some implementations" reference might be taken to mean the camera might be somewhere else on "some implementations."
    Scubajrr
    • sorry lost the quote

      To quote the article:

      The mobile device 100 can also include a camera lens and sensor 180. In some implementations, the camera lens and sensor 180 can be located on the back surface of the mobile device 100.

      Is it just me or is the "Back surface" of the iPhone the screen. Most people I know consider the "Front" is the side that faces them and the "Back" faces away from them. I guess the "some implementations" reference might be taken to mean the camera might be somewhere else on "some implementations."
      Scubajrr
    • and side to side :-)

      I thought they meant front as in screen side. Maybe I misunderstood.
      storm14k
  • RE: Front-facing video camera spotted in Apple patent application

    My TYTN II has had a camera on the back AND the front since 2006! And stuff iPhone's 3.0 implementation will have. One day it will do all that my unglamourous 2y/o gadget does. All i need (not really) is a motion sensor
    colin@...
  • A decade late...

    Front facing video cam is a decade late for a mobile phone technology. I really pity US wireless technology. There's so much to grow but carriers wont let it. So behind with Asia and EU mobile phone capabilities. So limited. From carrier plans, services and phone capabilities options are limited with a high price. Ridiculous! US mobile R&D should really go out US to learn what's out there. Example: In Asia, low level social class can enjoy video comm. from a mobile gadget because service and technology are widely affordable. That was late 90's. The bad thing is phone snatching and pirating are rampant. :(
    shogundaimyo
  • RE: Front-facing video camera spotted in Apple patent application

    Don't tell this to Asian users. They will be laughing at you. There are others than HTC and not available here in US.
    shogundaimyo
  • This would be intelligent...

    If you discounted the fact that it has a flat surface for a display. An interface isn't very useful if you can't see it.
    Spiritusindomit@...
  • @NonZealot (and most of the rest of you posting here)

    Do you people even know how to read?!? The patent is not
    for a front facing video camera, so all your juvenile
    sarcasm just sounds foolish. Seriously, first, the language
    of the patent does not say it is for a front-facing camera.
    Even ZDNet, well-known for sensational, factually devoid
    articles, doesn't say the patent is for a front-facing video
    camera. Even their headline, well-known as a place ZDNet has no
    compunctions against prevarication, does not claim it is a patent for a
    front-facing video camera. If any of you had bothered to read even
    the first two paragraphs of the article you'd know that.
    Well, assuming a third grade reading level, which apparently is asking
    too much.
    SpiritusInMachina
  • RE: Front-facing video camera spotted in Apple patent application

    I think they mean front as in the persons front - so it can monitor where they are going.

    So you will be able to plug your noise canceling earphones in, concentrate on the screen (which will edit out the trash and graffiti and replace it with trees and streams) and be completely divorced from reality. Just like a &lt;insert least favored operating system&gt; Zealot :-)
    don@...