Apple Insider has discovered another interesting camera-related Apple patent application. The document titled "Super-resolution based on optical image stabilization" describes a way to use a camera's optical image stabilization system to capture a series of images at slightly offset angles and then stitch them together to create one large high-resolution file. 

Typically an OIS shifts either the imaging sensor or a lens element to counteract the movements of a photographer's unsteady hand. According to the patent application, Apple is looking at alternative ways of using this technology, which is interesting because none of Apple's current smartphones even use an OIS in the traditional way.

It's not clear at this point how high the resulting pixel-count and the image quality from such a system could be, nor what it would be used for. Image resolution is hardly the most pressing problem of smartphone cameras and most mobile images get downsized for sharing and editing anyway. Even Apple's current 8MP sensors offer more than enough pixels for most purposes.

However, more pixels can also be used in creative ways as Nokia has shown with the Lumia 1020 that uses the 41MP from its 1/1.5-inch sensor to enable a lossless digital zoom and create high quality 5MP files through clever downscaling algorithms.  If done right, Apple's patent could allow for a similar system without the use of a large and expensive sensor. We might find out with one of the next generation iPhones.  

Source: USPTO | Via: Apple Insider