There's always something intriguing cooking in Cupertino, even if Apple's ovens are full, and the latest item on the list is a novel camera flash assembly you might one day see on an iPhone. Where camera flashes are typically fixed in a single spot on a device, Apple's trying to patent a flash redirector that could whip them around, letting you frame a dimly-lit picture the way you want and automatically adjust the intensity and direction of the flash to get better results. The patent application suggests that devices would have a dedicated lens for the flash, and then a pivot on either that lens or the flash itself to aim, plus an "evaluator" that figures out what needs to be lit and by how much. Alternatively, Apple imagines you might be able to just select an area on a touchscreen camera device (wonder where we'd find one of those?) with your finger and aim the flash yourself, but if we know anything about Apple's love of simplicity they'll try the AI solution first. Either way, it seems like an excellent nighttime equivalent to iOS 4.1's HDR, and something we might like to see on all sorts of shooters, not just those on phones.

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Apple attempts to patent a smarter camera flash