Apple working on iPhone camera-activated speaker phone

“It would appear that one of Apple’s R&D teams have been assigned with the project of coming up with new ways to utilize the iPhone’s built-in camera beyond simply taking photos,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple.

“Last month we were clued into an innovative concept that will help users control their incoming calls and voicemail by simply swiping their finger over the external camera lens. It detailed rewinding and fast forwarding voicemail in addition to enhancing one handed navigation of web pages, documents or your iTunes library – by once again, swiping the camera lens in different swiping motion combinations,” Purcher reports. “In today’s patent, we’re presented with the idea of that we’ll be able to train the iPhone (or perhaps a future iPad) to automatically turn the speaker-phone mode on under specific conditions like when you’re driving a vehicle or busy working on your computer”

Purcher reports, “The camera is trained to understand both lighting conditions and your common surroundings so as to know when your speaker phone should or could be activated. If you’re a busy executive, then this may be the answer you’ve been looking for. For now however, it’s simply an R&D project.”

Full article, with patent application illustrations, here.


  1. I don’t get it. How is a camera on the back of the phone going to be of any use during a speakerphone call?

    Guess that’s why I’m not employed in Cupertino.

  2. I think this would be kind of cool. But, how does the camera know when to respond to these jestures when it’s in sleep mode? Or do you have to unlock the phone and then launch an app. Sounds doable, but probably would also require you to have a homogenous background behind your hand, such as a white wall or such so that jestures can stand out.

  3. Think of the camera as the sensor for a mouse – with detects like:
    fixed position, panning up, panning down, panning left, panning right.

    I could see how this may be more precise for positioning a cursor without hiding the screen with a finger to “snap” to vector points say in a drawing program.

  4. Alright Apple, if you are listening, here is a simple software adjustment that would make the speakerphone feature on the iPhone easier to use. If you turn the speakerphone on, simply monitor the proximity sensor. If the phone is brought back close to the face, automatically turn off the speakerphone and if the phone is once again pulled away, automatically turn it back on. Isn’t this the way an Apple feature should work? Intuitive and Intelligent.

  5. Not everything that Apple thinks of is or will be revolutionary. One out of fifty would be great. And sometimes ideas that don’t seem so good at first end up being winners. And then there are the ideas that may not seem very good to many people until they are shown to be mistaken…

    For instance:
    Apple building their new operating system on UNIX rather than the great new BeOS?

    Apple developing a portable music player and arriving late to the game?

    Apple developing a smart cell phone and arriving very late to the game?

    Yet these were all game changers and have shaped the technological path of a decade and more beyond.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.