Apple granted a patent (number 20210021768) for “camera systems for bendable electronic devices.” It could apply to “foldable” iPhones or iPads, but also the Apple Watch — if Apple adds a camera to it.
In the patent data, the tech giant notes that electronic devices may have image sensors such as a rear-facing camera on a smartphone for capturing images. To capture wide angle photographs, some smartphones support panoramic image capture modes.
In this mode of operation, a user sweeps the camera of a cellular telephone across a scene during image capture operations. After multiple sequential images of different parts of the scene have been captured in this way, the cellular telephone may stitch together the images to form a panoramic photograph.
Apple says it can be challenging to capture panoramic images in this way. Images may become blurred due to camera movement and/or portions of a scene may move during image capture operations. Alignment issues may also arise causing desired portions of an image to be cut off unintentionally. Apple wants its devices to overcome such limitations.
Of course, the iPhone would be the primary beneficiary of such technology. The iPad, as well, but the patent images also show a smartwatch with one or more portions of the housing walls being transparent for photographic purposes.
Here’s the summary of the patent: “An electronic device may have a flexible housing formed from flexible fabric, flexible polymer, or other flexible materials. Cameras may be mounted on the housing. The housing may be bent into different configurations such as a configuration in which the housing has a convex surface facing an exterior region and a configuration in which the housing has a concave surface facing the exterior region. The cameras may have respective camera image capture directions. By reorienting the cameras by bending the housing, the cameras can be used to capture panoramic images or three-dimensional images.”