Apple has won a couple of patents today from the USPTO (via AppleInsider), and both are very practical advancements of tech that it’s easy to imagine being integrated in upcoming versions of existing devices. One is a camera sensor imaging enhancement that could make its way into both mobile and Mac product lines, and the other is a way to make hold more enjoyable for the person doing the waiting on a call.
The imaging patent describes a dual sensor camera system that could be integrated into iOS devices like the iPad and iPhone, as well as into Mac computers, that would use two sensors instead of one to capture simultaneous imaging data and then stitch those together intelligently, picking the best of each and obscuring the other sensor’s faults.
This would have the effect of covering up bad or dead pixels on one sensor, identifying blurry parts or strange exposure or lighting effects and compensating with image data captured by the other sensor. The patent describes a way for it to work with both still images and video, which is probably why it’s described as being useful both for mobile devices and for Macs, where it could help improve video quality being fed to chat applications from the built-in FaceTime camera.
The hold call patent is perhaps of more limited utility, but it does provide a way for users to share their photos and music with one another in an unconventional way. When people are on hold, they’d be presented with a variety of available data from the other party that they could browse while waiting. Options include pictures, music, upcoming events, location, books, wait time, status updates, videos or a recorded message, and a user can customize what kind of content gets shared, and where it gets sourced.
Access to hold content can be adjusted on a granular level, too, allowing you to opt to share some types of content only with family members for instance, while all callers have a much more constrained set of data to check out. Since it could potentially be something the hold party might actually enjoy, there’s even a provision that would let the person who put you on hold indicate they’re ready to come back on the line, giving you a chance to wrap up.
It’s a little precious, as use cases for this might be limited (who even talks on the phone anymore, let alone puts anyone on hold?) but it’s also potentially an easy way for Apple to indirectly advertise more of its iTunes content, and it’s a feature that would show well in demos and in marketing material. Also, it seems like it would be relatively easy to implement.