Patentlyaple has discovered an Apple patent application titled "Parallax Depth Rendering" which describes a methodology for rendering images and video that, when viewed on a standard 2D display, give the impression of showing a 3D view. This depth rendering effect is achieved by simulating the imaging characteristics of the parallax effect and depth of field and uses three main input elements: an image or video, a method to segment the image into two or more regions or layers and relative orientation information between display and viewer. 

On the 2D display the image changes as the viewer changes his or her relative position to the device in real time. The different segments of the input image are altered to simulate parallax and depth of field. For the former this can be done through an alteration of position, scale, rotation, perspective or distortion of the image segment. For the latter blur, sharpness, scale, position, rotation, color, contrast, saturation, hue and luminance of the image segment can be adjusted. The various image segments are then rendered as separate planes and superimposed on top of each other.

There are different ways of segmenting the image, all of which may be used. For example a series of images captured at different focusing points or only two exposures, one taken with flash, one without. In some images, for example portraits, where the main subject is well isolated from the background, segmentation can simply be done based on subject identification. The relative positioning between display and observer can be analyzed using a device's built-in camera and based on the observers face, body, eyes or other vantage points. 

As usual, there is no way of knowing if and when the technology will make it into an actual device but it seems unlikely that we'll see depth rendering features on the upcoming new generation of iPhones which will probably be launched some time in September. More information on the patent is available on Patentlyapple or the USPTO website.

Source: USPTO | Via: Patentlyapple