An Apple patent published on Tuesday details a miniaturized iPhone camera system that employs a light-splitting cube to parse incoming rays into three color components, each of which are captured by separate sensors.
High end digital cameras have always had three detectors, one for each color after splitting the light beam into red, green and blue. This essentially tripples the information content and makes for much crisper pictures with less noise.
This is actually an old approach. Color separation photography was used a lot when color films were very expensive but black and white were not. And BW film had much higher resolution than color.
So, they would make 3 separate pictures on black and white negatives using 3 different colored filters. Getting very high resolution negatives quickly.
Then back in the lab, they would recreate the original by shining colored light through each negative in succession. The final result would be a full color picture.
At a much higher resolution than any color negative was capable of.
This is also used for archival purposes because color dyes will fade but not black and white. So you can take a set of color separation negatives that are decades old and recreate a photo that looks like new.
Something similar is done in Apple’s patent, although it happens digitally. By using 3 detectors, they can greatly enhance resolution. There are also all sorts of photo enhancements that can then be done.
This could be very cool.