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Google Granted Multiple LED Flashes Patent, Could be Seen in Future Nexus Device?

Google Patent Flashes

Back in September of 2011, it looks like Google filed for a patent that would allow for the placement of multiple LED flashes along either the backside or even the sides of a device. This morning, the USPTO has granted Google this patent and according to speculation, we could be seeing this in an upcoming Nexus device. Google states that one of the downsides of having either a single flash or two closely placed together flashes are shadows and of course, any photographer could agree with that. 

The above image, which is reportedly the best implementation of this, would allow the device to create a Xenon-like flash with LEDs, while not consuming as much power as the more bulky flashes you would see on a DSLR or even the Galaxy Camera with its pop-up flash.

Google Patent Flashes

But after all, this is Google we are talking about. You think their only concern are shadows in a picture? As seen in the application, more fantastic implementations are hinted at, such as HDR-like circumstances. For example, say there are multiple photos taken in rapid succession, firing off each individual flash at different times. Then, software stitches the photos together creating an extremely high quality image that is shadow free and full of depth. In the long run, there are probably a ton of interesting ways you could use something like this.

This would certainly be nice to see, but who knows when and if it will come. As long as it doesn’t ugly up the backside too much and the device can still remain slim, we’re all for it.

Via: Unwired View | USPTO

  • Incoming Google mind control device

  • This would create a challenge for case builders. Why don’t the phones come with a case from the factory anyhow?

  • It better have a big battery to support those lights.

  • TrojanFan

    This is just stupid. It might increase the amount of flash (resulting in a better pic) but it’s not going to eliminate shadows. All those LEDs are so close together that there will be very little, if any, difference in shadowing when you are taking a pic of someone 3-4 feet away.

  • I hope this means a good camera a long with it. My next phone I will be actually be taking camera quality into consideration.

  • How about they focus on trying to get a better lens/sensor first….so that you dont have to use the flash as much.

    • poop

      But the thing is…Google does not make the camera! Sensor won’t matter in dark/no light situations. You’ll need flash.

  • CAPerkins22

    Would make for some interesting looking cases.

  • Cowboydroid

    It’s kinda sad that something like this can get a patent. This is an obvious implementation of an already prevalent technology. It’s a shame that Google feels like they have to play the evil game. I can only hope they’re still working hard to undo the USPTO monstrosity.

    • Droidzilla

      Google makes all kinds of silly patents for their own defense. They don’t use them as a method to attack competition or generate revenue, though. As long as stupid patents remain dangerous, Google needs to have a quiver full of them.

    • It has become an arms race. If Google doesn’t patent it, someone else does. You either play the game or you get screwed.

  • montefan

    Looks like the Pentax Optio WG-2 design

  • steve g

    Looks like a set up for a night vision lights.

  • Sign me up.

  • wow…I was actually thinking about this design a few days ago…

  • joejoe5709

    The quad square shaped one isn’t bad. The star/circle one looks like a security camera – a bit overkill. But I’m glad they’re scooping up these great patents! Side note: is there anything they can do about the blue tint that flash causes?

    • joejoe5709

      Hehe. One LED is enough to light up my house at night. I can’t imagine 9 of them. Flippin floodlight. Jeebus. I would hope that in order to help with battery power, the sensor would be smart enough to determine whether only 1-2 LED’s is sufficient instead of using all 9 of them all the time for all situations. Maybe use a coupe of them for notifications while not in use for flash? 🙂

      • JoshGroff

        How often do you use flash when taking pictures, and how often do you take pictures, the drain shouldn’t be that much with average use.

      • Guest

        LEDs are dimmable. I don’t think there’s any reason they need to to flash them all at full power. I would think that the phone should be able to determine the proper amount of illumination required for a properly exposed photo, regardless of the number of LEDs used.

  • Nexus_FrEak

    Hey now… That’s a little close to a rectangle with rounded edges… better be careful!

  • Jonathan Bunch

    neat! waiting to see what they use this for!

  • JohnPA2006

    Looks more like a ring of IR lights for shooting video or pics in total darkness.
    like the sony nightshot feature. or those home security video camera’s

    • michael arazan

      Night Vision Camera- allows picture and videos to be taken in the dark and works great out side at night and has zoom, just don’t use flash. I can actually see in shadows at night outside. Like the second Generation goggles from the 89 desert storm soldiers used.


      • darkl3ad3r

        That app really doesn’t do anything beyond a simple inversion pass and applies a green tint filter.

        Aka – no, downloading an app does not convert your smartphone into night vision goggles.