Smartphone cameras can be awesome and frustrating at the same time. While it's nice to be able to carry an all in one device, sometimes you still need a dedicated point and shoot camera because there are certain situations where your phones shooter just won't cut it. Of course the modern smartphone camera has grown leaps and bounds since the days of the flip phones and their less than a megapixel camera sensor and recently Google filed a patent that could push the industry forward even further.
The patent in question, number 8,363,157, was granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office yesterday and shows off a multiple LED flash system for mobile devices. Owners of the Original Motorola Droid may remember that device having a dual LED flash, however the Droid's system had them bunched close together. This new LED system takes a completely different approach, in which the phone will be able to use multiple flashes for a photo depending on the lighting situation. These extra flashes would either be all used at the same time or individually activated, on a photo by photo basis.
It seems that Google has a few different ideas on how this would work and they included multiple sketches in what appears to be an attempt to cover all their bases. The first sketch is pretty straight forward with a basic ring of LED flashes all circling around the camera lense. It's in the second sketch that the search giant included where the fun begins...Moveable LEDs. That's right you will have the choice to position these flashes into a position that you feel will give you the best possible shot. I'll admit that moving flashes around is above my paygrade as a photographer but I'm sure there are photophiles out there drooling at the thought of being able to do this.
The most unique part of the patent is that the proposed camera will be able to take a rapid succession of shots with each using a different LED flash giving you different light settings. These pictures will then be analyzed and put together giving out a close to perfect final product.
Now this is just a patent filing and we know a lot of times these companies file them just to cover their own ass in order to get ahead of the competition, so this idea may never see the light of day. However the possibility is out there and since Google is very forward thinking we may very well see a prototype in the near future.