Apple granted a patent for ‘360 degree image presentation’ on an iPhone

Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,097,759) for “360 degree image presentation” that involves stabilizing spherically-captured images on an iPhone.

In the patent filing, Apple notes that portable wide-angle image capture devices such as the iPhone are commercially available. These devices can capture 360 degree. output images by stitching together two or more wide-angle video streams. 

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The resulting video streams assembled from two or more such 360 degree output images can be used to place a viewer, visually, inside a sphere that provides a 360.degree. view of the captured scene, or may otherwise provide access to an entire captured scene, even as the image capture device's orientation may change. 

As the orientation of the iPhone changes between successive images, the point of view of the resulting video may change. Apple says that, in some instances, some or all of changes in the point of view may be undesirable, especially when the device is also translating in three-dimensional space between successively-captured images. The tech giant wants to change this.

Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Techniques are disclosed for stabilizing a stream of spherical images captured by an image capture device to produce a stabilized spherical video sequence. The rotation of the image capture device during capture may be corrected in one or more desired axial directions in a way that is agnostic to the translation of the image capture device. 

“The rotation of the image capture device may also be corrected in one or more desired axial directions in a way that is aware of the translation of the image capture device. For example, the assembled output spherical video sequence may be corrected to maintain the horizon of the scene at a constant location, regardless of the translation of the image capture device (i.e., a `translation-agnostic` correction), while simultaneously being corrected to maintain the yaw of the scene in the direction of the image capture device's translation through three-dimensional space (i.e., a `translation-aware` correction).”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.