It’s not uncommon for a patent filing to send the rumor mills into overdrive, and a recent Apple patent has succeeded in doing exactly that. The patent describes a method for maintaining the same level of ambient light in a room no matter the placement of the sun. For example, the described sensor would be able to detect when the sun moves behind a cloud and brighten the lights in the room, or vice-versa.
The initial applications of a device like this are clear: Easier, more streamlined control of the light inside your home. It might also have implications in helping people stay focused on tasks when they aren’t interrupted by the need to turn on a light. Some users online have suggested the technology might even be applied to self-driving vehicles.
Though it’s not clear exactly how the technology will work, it seems like it will use a series of sensors and timestamps to determine what level the lights should be at. According to the patent images, light condition sensors, light control devices, video cameras, and an unnamed user interface device will all connect to a central controller.
The filing of a patent does not necessarily mean a brand-new device in on the way. Companies regularly file patents that never see a standalone device but are instead integrated into other products. However, Apple has made a push to improve its smart home lineup and compatibility, so it isn’t outside the realm of possibility that this new patent could become part of the HomeKit system in some way.
The way the patent describes the function of the sensors sounds similar to the company’s existing TrueTone display on iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks. TrueTone works by detecting the ambient light around the user and correcting the white balance and brightness of the screen to reflect an accurate picture. If using an iPad in bright sunlight, the screen might be hard to see or certain colors might be washed out. TrueTone compensates for these inaccuracies. If the recent patent follows that line of thought, TrueTone-like technology in smart home equipment could be used to automatically adjust the depth of hue and brightness of smart lights.