“On June 14, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals one of their research projects involving a camera device that provides the user with configurable optic options,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple.

“The unique aspect to this is the device’s removable back panel,” Purcher reports. “Although Apple’s patent background mentions a mobile phone, their actual summary and patent detailing mention nothing of a phone in any traditional way. So the device could either represent a next generation iPod touch as a means of differentiating it from the iPhone or a standalone camera that Apple has been playing with since 2009. While Apple has toyed with the idea of adding various lenses to handhelds via an external accessory in the past, their concepts were never in-line with Apple’s great design ethic.”

Purcher reports, “Today’s design seems to properly address the need for better portable device optical options while retaining an Apple-like form factor. The only real question remaining is this: Is Apple designing this removal back panel design as part of a standalone camera or as part of the iPod touch’s reinvention.”

Much more, including Apple patent application illustrations, in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Arline M.” and “Edward Weber” for the heads up.]