A new Apple patent (number 20130027548) shows that Apple is working on a depth perception device and system. The system includes a first image capturing device, which may include a lens and an image sensor.
The system also includes a first laser source. The first laser source is configured to emit a fan shaped laser beam to intersect at least a portion of a field of view of the image capturing device.
Here’s Apple’s background and summary of the invention: “Depth sensing is an estimate or determination of the depth of an object as viewed from another object or a person. Most current devices that include a depth sensing function may require complicated and expensive sensors, which may in turn require complicated algorithms in order to process data collected by the sensors. However, depth or distance determination may be useful for many devices. For example, cameras may produce better images based on depth data of an object, as a lens of the camera may better focus on an object when the object’s depth is known.
“Some cameras may include an auto focusing feature. The auto focus feature may be able to determine by approximation or iteration the approximate distance of an object in order to focus a lens on an object. For example, the auto focus may sample different images or sensor readings and with each sample, the auto focus may adjust accordingly until the proper focus is achieved. Other auto focus techniques may include transmitting a sound wave or an infrared signal. For either of these wave methods, the camera transmits a wave and then captures or monitors the wave.
“The camera may then determine the values of the reflected wavelength and determine the distance the object is from the camera. For example, the time difference between the time that an infrared light wave pulse is produced and when it is received back after reflection allows the camera to estimate the distance to the object.
“Examples of the disclosure may include a system for determining a distance to a object. The system includes a first image capturing device, which may include a lens and an image sensor. The system also includes a first laser source. The first laser source is configured to emit a fan shaped laser beam to intersect at least a portion of a field of view of the image capturing device.
“Other examples of the disclosure may include an electronic device. The electronic device (such as a computer or smart phone) may include a processor and a camera, the camera may be in communication with the processor. Additionally, the electronic device includes a first laser source configured to emit a first fan shaped laser beam to intersect at least a portion of a field of view of the camera.
“Yet other examples of the disclosure may include a depth detection device. The device may include a lens and an image sensor configured to capture an image of light transmitted through the lens. The device may also include a laser source configured to emit a laser beam trackable by the lens and having a width that increases in dimensions away from the laser source.”
David S. Gere is the inventor.