Apple is steadily focused on enhancing and innovating the camera system on its hardware, the iPhone in particular, and the tea leaves unsurprisingly suggest we should expect further progress in iPhotography.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark office recently granted Apple a patent entitled ‘producing stereoscopic image,’ as noted by AppleInsider, which describes a process in which two similar images are intelligently combined to create an artificial sense of depth within the photo.

The camera system on the latest iPhone hardware already supports a number of algorithm-driven features such as HDR (high dynamic range) photography in which an over exposed and under exposed image are matched together to produce a greater dynamic range of lighting.

Just last month, the company was awarded a patent describing a Light Field camera with the ability to refocus images already captured hinting at which photography advancements we should anticipate in future hardware.

Another patent revealed to have been awarded to Apple today (via AppleInsider) described a camera system with face detection used for user authorization functionality. While this patent seems largely security related, it brings to mind Apple’s November acquisition of PrimeSense, the body sensor team behind the original Microsoft Kinect sensor.

While it’s not easy to translate patent filings and acquisitions into product roadmaps, we can easily look at Apple’s acquisition of AuthenTec in July 2012 and sequential debut of Touch ID in September 2013.

Unrelated to photography (as far as we know at least) but still a notable acquisition worth considering is yesterday’s news that Apple acquired the social analytics company Topsy. The service, which searches conversations on Twitter and other social networks for data analysis, doesn’t immediately present itself as an obvious service to integrate with Apple’s offerings, but perhaps our good friend Siri could benefit from the technology.

At any rate, innovation continues to await us on the horizon if these tidbits amount to something as they tend to often do.

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