Apple wants iPhone photos to provide 3D geodata

Apple wants the photos you take with your iPhone to offer even more detailed info. The tech giant has filed for a patent (number 20190147303) for “automatic detection of noteworthy locations.”

Apple says the inclusion of global positioning system (GPS) receivers in imaging devices such as the iPhone allows photographers to include latitude and longitude information with those images, typically as part of metadata stored in the image file. The addition of such location information to an image is generally known as geo-tagging the image, with the resulting location information referred to as geodata. 

Noteworthy locations.png

Geo-tagging may be performed by the imaging device or other associated logic at the time of imaging, or may be performed by post-processing an image to add the geodata where the imaging device did not have GPS capability or where the GPS receiver was disabled or unable to obtain a location signal from a GPS satellite at imaging time. 

Latitude and longitude information has been very useful for numerous applications. However, Apple says that latitude and longitude only provide only two-dimensional (2D) geodata and do not provide either three-dimensional (3D) geodata or information about the orientation of the imaging device. Having 3D geodata and orientation information would be useful, the tech giant adds. 

Here’s the summary of the invention: “By providing 3D representations of noteworthy locations for comparison with images, the 3D location of the imaging device, as well as the orientation of the device may be determined. The 3D location and orientation of the imaging device then allows for enhanced navigation in a collection of images, as well as enhanced visualization and editing capabilities. The 3D representations of noteworthy locations may be provided in a database that may be stored local or remote to the imaging device or a programmable device processing images obtained from the imaging device.”

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.