A freshly unearthed Apple patent might enable users to do group selfies without actually being physically close to each other.
Found by Patently Apple, the patent describes computer-generated “synthetic group selfies,” which can be “an arrangement or composition of individual selfies obtained from a plurality of computing devices into a single group image.”
As described in the patent, your phone or computer could one day be able to create a group selfie image by combining images of people from a variety of sources, such as still images, videos, or even livestreamed video. A user could further modify the result by rearranging individuals inside the group selfie.
Other advantages of this approach include being able to distribute the processing of such images across several devices to reduce computational load on any individual device, as well as intelligent, automatic arrangement of individuals within a selfie, possibly AI-assisted.
This sounds ideal for the social distancing era, which we’re unfortunately still in right now due to the coronavirus pandemic. But even though the patent has been granted on June 2, 2020, it was actually filed nearly two years ago, in July 2018. Cue conspiracy theories about Apple knowing the future.
In reality, though, this is probably just one idea for a possible iPhone feature, one that could make it easier to create that perfect group selfie with a couple of taps. And while the idea of a synthetic group selfie may seem unrealistic, just think about how far computational, AI-enhanced photography has come in the past couple of years.
The patent may never become an actual feature, or it may be years before it does. But it’s an interesting insight into how Apple thinks about the future of photography. Check out the entire patent text here.