U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has approved Apple’s application for digital camera with light splitter. The patent consists of the possibilities of embedding three sensors prism-based camera module in a thin wireless device such as iPhone. In this arrangement, it is expected that the pixel array resolution can be maximized since it does not require color channel processing which then will enhance the picture quality.
The light splitting system currently found in video cameras and recently in handheld camcorder models. The system splits the incident light entering the camera into three wavelengths or colors using a single prism or prisms. The colors normally split into red, green and blue are then picked up by dedicated imaging sensors which is located on or close to the prism face.
Apple uses the similar design as above; however, Apple uses an additional cube arrangement built using four identical polyhedrons which meet at interfaces. On top of that light splitters offers desirable effects such as sum and difference polarization. This will give the same result as polarization imaging without filtering out the incident light. This process is useful when you want to extract the image data further by using computer applications.
The patent is actually an extension of the previous Apple’s optical image stabilization which uses mirrors and optics. There is no confirmation if Apple plans to implement light splitter into a future product. Apple’s cube light splitter camera system is filed first in 2011 and mentions Steven Webster and Ning Y.Chan as its inventors.