Apple has been granted a patent for a new light-splitting, three-sensor camera system, Apple Insider reports, which could pave the way for a higher quality photos and videos in the iPhone.
Instead of using one standard sensor to collect image data, the patent involves a system of mirrors and lenses that would split the incoming light into three parts. These components would then be directed onto three separate, dedicated sensors.
This configuration would allow Apple to make use of more pixels than it could on a single sensor, significantly boosting image quality.
The mirrors can also be used for optical image stabilisation — subtly moving parts of the camera to account for minor hand movement, making photos less blurry.
As Apple Insider notes, similar tech is already used by other professional camera companies in their video cameras, including Canon, Philips and Panasonic.
Of course, not every patent Apple is granted makes it into a finished product. Some are merely precautionary, or intended to tie up competitors in litigation. But Apple is keen to have the iPhone taken seriously as a device suitable for photography. It’s currently in the middle of an international advertising campaign showing off photos taken with the iPhone 6.
Here’s a diagram of the sensor provided in the patent application: