A patent filed by Apple in 2011 and discovered this week by appleinsider.com seems to hint at a 'social camera flash' system, allowing multiple iOS devices to be connected and used as secondary strobes. The patent is filed as an 'illumination system' and describes 'initiating a master-slave relationship between the image capture device and at least one secondary device'.

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As usual, the legalese gets a little dense but according to the analysis done by appleinsider.com, 'the patent application can be considered a 'social camera flash' system, perhaps useful in impromptu photo shoots that require more than one source of lighting.'

An image from the Apple patent shows multiple iOS devices being connected together to provide flash illumination of a subject. (image: USPTO)

Among the possibilities listed in the patent is for a graphical user interface to be used to preview test shots, and for handheld devices in the impromptu setup to offer instructions to the photographer/subject 'to move in a particular direction, for a particular distance, to angle or move the device in a certain manner, and so forth'.

We'd recommend not getting too excited about this, since large technology companies file patents all the time, and only a fraction of them ever see the light of day as finished features or products. That said, we're intrigued by the idea. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.