Four new Apple patent filings hint that the company is working to improve the quality of the cameras it uses in its iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices.

The US Patent & Trademark Office has published four new patent applications filed by Apple, which focus on colour balance and colour correction.

Patently Apple reports that the first of Apple's new patent applications relates to "techniques for creating a novel chromaticity space that may be used as a framework to perform colour balancing on images captured by a variety of different image sensors."

For all four of the patents, Apple has added a different new step in the imaging process. For the first patent, the new step sees the camera "transform RGB Raw data into novel chromaticity space," before carrying out the colour balancing and colour correction processes.


The second patent application relates to colour balancing improvements, which aim to alleviate problems that can occur in auto white balance algorithms. The step added into the imaging process is: "Create "trimmed histogram" from RGB values to alleviate dominant colour influence."

Apple's third newly published patent application, again relating to colour balancing, covers techniques for improving the performance of auto white balance algorithms by using noise-optimised selection criteria. This patent adds a "create histogram from RGB values and multiply with noise-optimised weighting table(s)," step to the imaging process.

Finally, the fourth camera-related patent covers colour correction techniques, adding in a step, this time before the white balancing process, for "colour correction using multi-illuminant colour matrix representation and interpolation based on estimated white point."

The technology described in all four of these patents could be used in iPhones, iPods, monitors, televisions, MacBooks, iMacs and iPads, says Apple.

Just last week, we reported that a new rumour had suggested that Apple's next iPhone could boast a 12-megapixel camera with improved low-light shooting and HDR. It's widely expected that the next-generation iPhone will come with significant camera improvements, to outweigh the predicted lack of body design changes.

The iPhone's camera has been gaining popularity and credibility, with professional photographers and photojournalists opting to use the iPhone as their camera of choice. Notably, Time Magazine used a photograph captured using an iPhone 4S as its cover image in November.

On its website, Apple boasts that the iPhone's camera is "The world's most popular camera," and the top three cameras on flickr are the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 and iPhone 4 respectively. So, it makes sense that Apple would want to focus some of its efforts on bringing users an even better offering.

See also:

iPad 5 rumour rollup for the week: Release date speculation, camera improvements expected

Android founder: We aimed to make a camera OS

Adobe shows off Photoshop CS7 camera shake reduction tool

Apple patent hints at virtual keyboard, advanced camera for future iPhone

Apple iPhone 5 camera: same megapixel rating but better resolution and low-light performance