There is news that Apple has developed a mechanism for creation of super-resolution images with the help of an image capturing device. The US Patent & Trademark Office has published patent application number 20140125825 filed by Apple Inc. for “Super-Resolution Based on Optical Image Stabilization”.

The method described in the patent states that an initial optical image is captured by an electronic image sensor through an optical path which is then adjusted slightly by the optical image stabilization (OIS) processor. Then a second optical image is taken through the adjusted optical path. The second image is offset from the first image very slightly with a difference of a sub-pixel only.  The OIS processor continues this process and a series of optical images are captured, each with small sub-pixel offset. All these images are then combined together to produce a super-resolution image. The shift in optical path is caused by the actuators which tilt the camera module slightly from the pivot point every time.


Apple might be thinking of using this new technology in its future devices such as iPhones. The new device will need an image capturing system with an OIS mechanism. When a photo is taken with a camera by the user, there is usually some movement and the image gets somewhat distorted. The OIS system compensates for this movement and stabilizes the picture before it is converted into digital form. The super resolution engine uses various algorithms and performs some added operations such as anti-aliasing, gamma correction, white-point correction and some color processing if needed to create a super-resolution image.

In the actual device, there might be a basic camera application with an option for super-resolution imaging that can be exercised by pressing a button. The patent image figure 8 below shows this option button.

 Apple Patent Image Figure 8

The patent application published by the US Patent & Trademark Office on May 8, 2014 shows that it was filed with them on November8, 2012. It lists Baer Richard L and Thivent Damien J as its inventors. It is possible that Apple might integrate this super-resolution imaging with the upcoming iPhone 6 or perhaps with its successor.