Apple has filed a patent (number 20130039508) with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for an image capturing device having continuous image capture. It involves cameras, handheld electronic devices and, well, other electronic devices.
Here’s Apple’s background and summary of the invention: “These image capturing devices typically use a preview resolution for capturing a preview image of a scene. Subsequently, a user provides an input to take a photograph. The device switches from preview resolution to full resolution prior to capturing an image. Switching from preview to full resolution causes a time lag, which may lead to user frustration. Also, camera shake during the time when a user presses a button or touches a touchscreen can degrade image quality.
“Methods, devices, and systems for continuous image capturing are described herein. In one embodiment, a method can include continuously capturing images with an image capturing device. The method can include storing a predetermined number of the sequence of images in a buffer. The device can receive a user request to capture an image. The method can automatically select one of the buffered images based on one or more parameters.
“For example, the selection may be based on an exposure time of one of the buffered images and optionally an image quality parameter (e.g., image contrast). Alternatively, the selection may be based only on the image quality parameter. The sequence of images can be captured just prior to or concurrently with receiving the user request. The method can include automatically displaying the selected image on the display of the image capturing device. These operations can be initiated after the device enters an image capturing mode or other mode.
“For example, the device may have many functions and capabilities (e.g., the device may be a smart phone or personal digital assistant (PDA) which can send and receive emails, allow surfing of the internet, create documents, and also act as a camera), and a user can place the device into camera mode in order to cause it to begin these continuous operations. In an embodiment, the device is not continuously performing these operations when it is not in camera mode.
“In an embodiment, the continuously captured images can be captured in full resolution. The sequence of images can be advantageously captured just prior to the device receiving the user request for the photograph to avoid camera shake associated with the user request (e.g., pressing a shutter button, touching a touchscreen). One of the sequence of images can be automatically selected and displayed in full resolution in response to receiving the user request.
“The present invention can include systems and devices that perform these methods, including data processing systems which perform these methods, and machine readable media which when executed on data processing systems cause the systems to perform these methods.”
The inventors are Ralph Brunner, Nikhil Bhogal and James David Batson.