Apple files patent for multi-touch focus
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Apple files patent for multi-touch focus

An Apple patent (number 20120120277) for multi-touch focus has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It relates to image capturing electronic devices, having a touch sensitive screen for controlling camera functions and settings, such as the iPhone and iPad.

Per the patent, camera includes a lens arranged to focus an image on an image sensor and a touch sensitive visual display for freely selecting two or more regions of interest on a live preview image by touch input. An image processor is coupled to the image sensor and the touch sensitive visual display.

The image processor displays the live preview image according to the image focused on the image sensor by the lens. The image processor further receives the selection the regions of interest and controls acquisition of the image from the image sensor based on the characteristics of the image in regions that correspond to at least two of the regions of interest on the live preview image.

The image processor may optimize sharpness and/or exposure of the image in at least two of the regions of interest. The image processor may track movement of the selected regions of interest.

Here's Apple's summary of the invention: "A camera includes a lens arranged to focus an image on an image sensor and a touch sensitive visual display for freely selecting two or more regions of interest on a live preview image by touch input. An image processor is coupled to the image sensor and the touch sensitive visual display. The image processor displays the live preview image according to the image focused on the image sensor by the lens.

"The image processor further receives the selection the regions of interest and controls acquisition of the image from the image sensor based on the characteristics of the image in regions that correspond to at least two of the regions of interest on the live preview image. The image processor may optimize sharpness and/or exposure of the image in at least two of the regions of interest. The image processor may track movement of the selected regions of interest.

" Several methods for operating a built-in digital camera of a portable, handheld electronic device are described. In one embodiment, the device receives a user selection (e.g., tap, tap and hold, gesture) of multiple regions of interest within a scene to be photographed as displayed on a display screen (e.g., touch sensitive display screen).

"A touch to focus mode may then be initiated to adjust the distance between the lens and the image sensor to obtain sharp images of the selected regions of interest. It is possible that the selected regions of interest will be at significantly different distances from the lens and the distance between the lens and the image sensor will be adjusted to a "compromise" distance to place the selected regions of interest as much in focus as the conditions of the scene allow.

"The automatic white balance or color balance mechanism may adjust image parameters based on the selected regions of interest. While it is likely, though not necessary, that autofocus and autoexposure will both use the same regions of interest, the automatic balance mechanisms are more likely to use regions of interest selected specifically for the purpose of setting the white or color balance.

"Since color balance will generally not change rapidly or frequently, the balance may be set and then the regions of interest may be reset for focus and exposure. In other embodiments, the user may select multiple regions of interest and further select what parameters are controlled by the regions of interest."

Richard Tsai is the inventor.

 
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