They could call it the i2iPhone

Those who sift the data streams for nuggets of Apple news sometimes find success panning through the company’s patent papers, and while it may take a while to see if the gleanings are gold or pyrite, they do make for interesting campfire conversation. Begetting buzz today are a few grains buried in a freshly awarded iPhone patent that hint at its potential evolution into a videophone.

At the moment, the iPhone doesn’t even record video, a common feature among mobile phones, but InformationWeek’s Alexander Wolfe says the patent contains not only multiple mentions of recording, but indications of a future as a mobile videoconferencing device. There’s this list of features, for instance: “In some embodiments, the functions may include telephoning, video conferencing, e-mailing, instant messaging, blogging, digital photographing, digital videoing, Web browsing, digital music playing, and/or digital video playing.” And this, indicating Apple has considered the issue of lens location: “In some embodiments, an optical sensor is located on the back of the device, opposite the touch screen display on the front of the device, so that the touch screen display may be used as a viewfinder for either still and/or video image acquisition. In some embodiments, an optical sensor is located on the front of the device so that the user’s image may be obtained for videoconferencing while the user views the other video conference participants on the touch screen display. In some embodiments, the position of the optical sensor can be changed by the user (e.g., by rotating the lens and the sensor in the device housing) so that a single optical sensor may be used along with the touch screen display for both video conferencing and still and/or video image acquisition.”

Of course not everything that makes it into a patent pops up in a product. But at some point as the icon ages, whether it’s in the next iteration (see “Newshounds sniff out traces of next-gen iPhone“) or later, if Apple wanted to give the iPhone some fresh wind with a feature that would capture headlines and imaginations, this would certainly qualify.


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  • RedRat

    This isn’t what I call a breakthrough. They give patents for crap like this? WTF. I was always under the benign and naive idea that patents were for innovative inventions. But really, putting a video camera on an iPhone? Wow! What a concept! Then you can video conference! Wow again! What refreshing thinking there at Apple. I guess indeed Steve Jobs has stepped away.

  • Tom A

    Funny Molly Wood “Buzz Report” rant against the Patent Office over issuing Apple’s new patents.