Apple patent application reveals ‘social camera flash’, uses multiple iPhones, iPads to light scene

“An Apple patent filing discovered on Thursday describes a system in which a primary iOS device, such as an iPhone, remotely controls multiple secondary devices, which can also be iPhones, as slave flashes for the first handset’s on-board camera,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider.

“Filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as an ‘Illumination system,'” Apple’s invention proposes that a number of devices, like iPhones, iPads, iPods or other mobile products, can act as remotely-controlled strobe lights for a primary camera,” Campbell reports. “The idea of connecting multiple iOS devices belonging to different people, the patent application can be considered a “social camera flash” system, perhaps useful in impromptu photo shoots that require more than one source of lighting.”

Campbell reports, “The patent application notes the primary device can be either a dedicated camera or a handset with image capture capabilities, while the slave units can be the same product or any other suitable device with lighting components.”

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

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arline M.” for the heads up.]


  1. Tonight AAPL drops again and GOOG rises again , wtf !!!

    Guys , no worry , I have mortgaged my house and I will do all I can to safeguard Apple at the price $420.

    I don’t think the motherfukers can break my wall .

  2. I very much like the idea, a brightly illuminated iPad screen just out of frame on a close up facial portrait could provide a nicely flattering soft light, but this patent appears to be more to do with controlling the strobe flash lamps, which will usually be very hard with well defined shadows.

    1. @Alanaudio: I don’t think you’re entirely right. The idea of multiple strobes is that you can fill in those shadows balancing the light. Even an on-camera fill-flash, if the settings are right, can give great results in daylight by filling in the harsh shadows from the sun. It may be just a gimmick, but I think it would be fun to try to light a shoot creatively using multiple, synched, iPhone flashes.

      1. The light on a phone is usually a point source such as an LED, which creates very harsh shadows. You can soften a point source by doing things like bouncing it off a reflective surface, but an LED flash isn’t really strong enough for that unless you’re working close up.

        If you’re working really close, the light from a IOS device’s display screen can be an excellent soft light and multiple sources synced in this way could be very effective – if you can conveniently position them in the right places.

    1. Anybody with a brain would realise that nobody would buy an additional IOS device solely to use as a secondary flash.

      For those of us with actual real-life friends, our friends also tend to have IOS devices with them and those are the devices that could be pressed into service as a temporary remotely controlled light source.

        1. My girlfriend would want to know why I was shooting porn movies on my iPhone without her starring in it. But she’d certainly be happy to lend me her iPhone, iPad and iPod touch to make our personal home movie shoots look better.

        2. It’s clear, BLN, that you’re no photographer, and you have no idea how to use multiple small flash units in syncro to illuminate a larger space, or to fill areas of shadow in a larger, better lit scene. Being able to call on a group of people to share their flash lights, not the screen light, could lead to all sorts of creative uses for amateur photographers on holiday with a bunch of friends.
          Just because you have a paucity of imagination, doesn’t mean many others do.
          It should be abundantly clear by now, even to someone like you, that Apple provides the capability, and leaves it to the user to find a myriad ways of taking advantage of it.

  3. Imagine social improv flash lighting events in a large public area. Could be creatively and artistically interesting.
    But wait, don’t stop there with “networked social creative apps” like these!
    Why not have one device make all the slave iDevices play the same song? Or play the same found, ringtone, or morse code or vibration?
    And what about having all these iDevices create an ad hoc network, like Nicholas Negreponte’s computers can?
    C’mon you creative developers out there — show us what you got!

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