A patent for a wireless accessory that allows users to remotely control the camera of an iPhone - including image preview, capture and review - has been granted to Apple by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It was discovered on the USPTO website by Appleinsider.com. The abstract of the patent specification reads as follows:
A camera capable of capturing still images and video and included in a portable media device can be controlled remotely using an accessory. The accessory can register with the PMD to automatically receive notifications whenever there is a change in the camera state. The camera states can include mode, operation status, and configuration settings. The accessory can send instructions to a camera application that interfaces with the camera to control the camera. The accessory can remotely activate the camera, change camera mode, and send instructions to operate the camera. The accessory and the PMD can concurrently control the camera. The PMD can send the captured still images and recorded video to the accessory for preview and receive instructions from the accessory on disposition of the still images and the video.
The invention could be described as a remote control with two-way communication. You can not only control an iPhone's or iPad's camera via a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth link, but the camera also reports its status back to the remote control. This is done via lights or via the UI on the device's screen. Controls could include functions like switching from stills to video mode, changing shutter speeds and video frame rates, or simply opening and closing the camera app.
With the ability to display a live preview and review images, the device works the same way as smartphone apps that are used to remotely control Wi-Fi-capable compact cameras and DSLR's, such as Sony's PlayMemories app. This can be useful for group self-portraits, when taking pictures with the phone mounted on a tripod and positioned close to the ground or high up, or for surveillance purposes.
Of course we don't know at this point if the patent will ever result in an actual product but there is no doubt that, at the right price, it could be a useful accessory for mobile photographers in certain situations.
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