Just a few days before Steve Jobs will kick off this year’s WWDC with one of his famous keynotes, we came across this report on Patently Apple, describing a patent Apple filed in 2009.

The patent application was released on June 2, 2011, by the US Patent & Trademark office and describes an advanced camera technology for Apple’s iPhone, using infrared technology to provide content-aware information and functions to the user.

With a built-in infrared emitter and an image processing circuitry electrically coupled to the camera, the system could “become aware” of what it sees through the lens and then decide what to do.

There are a few scenarios where this technology could be very helpful. The first one Apple describes in their patent application is the function to get additional information about what the user points the camera at. Be it an ancient vase or a painting on the wall, iOS could offer you additional information or even video or audio clips about the item. Another scenario is the supermarket, where the user could get pricing, availability and nutrition information about a product he points his camera at.

Yet another function is described in Apple’s application. This one, however, is not really a function for the user but rather a technological barrier to prevent piracy or other copyright infringements. That means that Apple describes a way to block the phone’s camera functions (photo and video) when the user tries to take pictures or videos at a concert or in the cinema. This’d be perfect for the copyright holders but surely frustrating for the users, since they won’t be able to take snapshots or short video clips of their favourite bands on stage when they’re at a gig.

Article and Images Via Patently Apple