Google has been grated a patent for a very interesting idea: multiple LED flashes in a mobile phone. And we don’t mean like the dual LED flash that was available on the original DROID, where they were bunched together as close as possible, we mean many LEDs far apart from each other.
Instead of patenting one configuration, they patented many possible ones. This includes a patent for movable LEDs, ones you can slide around into a position of your choice. This creates many opportunities, like stronger lighting and lighting from a bit wider of an angle, reducing shadows.
However, Google’s idea is unique. Each flash could be fired individually for a photo, taking multiple photos. Then it will analyze the shadows for depth measurements and give you a composite image. It’s a unique take on 3D imaging without the need for two sensors.
We’ve always been a fan of Xenon flashes in mobile phones (I have fond memories of the Sony Ericsson K810i), but they made phones very thick. LED flashes are the best choice for modern mobile phones, and this might improve them significantly. Could we see it in the next Google-blessed phone? We’ll see.