Apple Working on Automatic FaceTime Camera Switch

A new patent application reveals the fact that the Cupertino-based company is working on teleconferencing and video capture technology, which would allow video processing from an iPhone’s front and rear cameras simultaneously.

With a growing number of handsets, which include both front and rear camera, Apple is doing some research in order to automate the camera function where the focus should be on both the caller and the subject. In the same time, the feature will automatically determine which feed to stream based on voice or visual cues.

iPhone FaceTime camera switch

The patent application proposes software that is able to select the front or the rear camera by watching for moving lips or listening for speech. The invention could easily become popular especially for those users who enjoy being their own photographers, as well as creating better family vacation videos.

As the document points out, the system can intelligently determine whether to use the video feed from a smartphone’s front or rear facing camera, and it can be used in video calls, such as those made via Apple’s FaceTime service or for content stored locally on a device. At this time, Apple’s iPhone is currently using one camera at a time, offering users the option to toggle between the two as desired.

The Fruit Company notes that the current bandwidth restrictions make it difficult to stream both video feed at the same time. However, the company suggests that a new method is needed to intuitively select one keeping audio in sync.

In order to better understand how this system works, an example is provided. During a FaceTime call in which a rear-facing camera video stream is being used, the system would automatically switch to the front-facing camera when a person begins to talk.

As it was mentioned earlier, in order to decide which camera to use, the technology detects speech by using data from microphones facing in the same direction as each camera, or using facial expressions such as lip movements. The embodiment also suggests an “Auto-Select” option that, when selected, will activate the system.

It is worth mentioning the fact that the patent application also describes an “interview mode”. This feature will allow users to start interviews using both cameras. Within this feature, the phone is located between a user, who is being captured by the front-facing camera and another person facing the rear camera. When one person is determined to be speaking, the video switches between the two cameras.

The patent application also allows users to store the video conversation or upload it via Wi-Fi while the cellular connection is unavailable. However, since the invention focuses mostly on software, there are several hardware limitations such as audio and video processors. With the incoming iPhone 5S to be revealed in the future, it is possible that the smartphone could have the necessary components to support such system.

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