If you’ve used an iPhone to snap shots in anything but ideal conditions you know how easy it is to get slightly blurry pictures with it. My camera roll is full of duplicate shots that are a result of me trying to get just one clear photo.
The patent, first filed back in 2009 but published today, reveals a technique for removing blur that uses multiple bursts of the LED flash to allow the iPhone to see if your subject is moving. It then uses that information to calculate the size of the object that you’re shooting and how far it moved. The pulses would be sent out quickly enough to be effectively invisible to the naked eye but would allow the iPhone, or iPad, to track the subjects motion. Once it knows where your subject started out in the frame and where it ended it can then calculate how much blur to remove.
The patent describes a system of either multiple flash pulses of varying power or a combination of infrared and visible light that would allow you to snap a photo of a not-quite-still subject and still end up with a sharp image. The technique could also be applied to video clips during processing to clean up and reduce blur in each frame.
Most of this technique would be handled in software but the patent does describe some new hardware capable of shooting out infrared light as well so we most likely won’t see this showing up in a software update but instead in a future version of the iPhone.