Apple Taps into Development of Near Infrared Applications for Medical Diagnosis and Night Vision

Apple has reportedly been granted a patent covering an optical system featuring near infrared technology that can be used for fields such as medical diagnosis and night vision.  

(Image: Wikipedia)

In an article Patently Apple covered, Apple on January 16 was granted a series of new patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In particular, one titled “Near-infrared imaging lens” shows the company has begun developing optical devices for a myriad of IR applications.

The optical system consists of four lens and can operate at a target near-infrared (NIR) wavelength to image an object onto an image plane.

Near-infrared (NIR) covers a wavelength range from 750nm to 1.4µm. It is used in applications including food inspection, night vision, medical diagnosis, and near-infrared spectroscopy. It is now also used in consumer electronic technologies to support capabilities such as pattern-based depth mapping.

It is speculated that Apple devised the optical system for new iPhone’s wide-angle lens and its future products might carry night vision capabilities.

Apple acquired image sensor startup InVisage Technologies, which specializes in developing imaging solutions for devices with constrained space, reported TechCrunch last November.

InVisage had developed the QuantumFilm, a photosensitive layer made up of quantum dots that can absorb the same amount of light as traditional image sensors and is much thinner and better at taking pictures while under non-optimal lighting conditions.

In addition, Apple is also working on the next generation infrared-based recognition technology to integrate with visible light sensors. It will be able to recognize users’ faces and locations, which can be adopted in iMac desktops for several applications such as video conferencing.

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