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Apple patents bayonet mount for mobile devices

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Apple's bayonet mount design would allow for secure attachment of lenses and other accessories to mobile devices. Image: USPTO

The guys at Apple Insider have spotted another camera-related Apple patent at the US Patent Office. A few months ago Apple patented a magnetic lens mount. This time the iPhone maker from Cupertino is looking at interchangeable lenses for mobile devices that will attach via a bayonet mount, just like on a DSLR or mirrorless system camera.

Most patents never turn into a product but if Apple decides to bring the bayonet mount to market you might be able to attach fish-eye, wide-angle, macro or tele lenses to future generation of iPhones, iPads and iPods, without the help of additional cases or clips.

Image: USPTO
Image: USPTO

The mount shown in the patent file is designed to securely attach a lens or accessory and at the same time alter the product design of the device only minimally. The lens mount protrudes only very slightly from the smartphone's rear and should therefore please fans of Apple's less-is-more approach to product design. It's also designed to release the lens on a hard impact without a twist in order to minimize potential damage to the lens and device if it was dropped. 

Having an easy and standardized method of attaching lenses and accessories to an iPhone without the need for special cases or clips should be appealing to enthusiast mobile photographers and more casual users alike. However to make the iPhone even more of a creative tool, Apple should not stop there and also think about sensor sizes, manual controls and other options. In any case it's good to see Apple is, like most other mobile manufacturers, constantly looking at ways to improve the imaging capabilities of its devices.  One more reason to look forward to the Apple new product announcements that are expected for September.

Source: US Patent Office | Via: Apple Insider


  

Comments

Total comments: 72
Ravitej Khalsa

It looks very much like the iPro bayonet attachment for it's Schneider lenses. The iPro case is very thin, but protrudes a little for the lens fitment. The case also has the ability to attach to a tripod or it's own lens case that doubles as a stabilizing handle. Perhaps Apple is looking at it's own version of the iPro or partnering with Schneider to offer quality Apple branded lenses. I use the wide angle lens on phone case with lens case handle all the time for interviews. Works well. Wonder if Apple will also provide a tripod mount built in.

0 upvotes

...so they can sue Samsung later. So innovative Apple.

1 upvote

"It's also designed to release the lens on a hard impact without a twist in order to minimize potential damage to the lens and device if it was dropped. "

The idea isn't new.

Once I read that literally all (D)SLR lenses have metal mount only on the surface: beneath the metal is plastic. The purpose of the plastic is to prevent/minimize the damage to the camera body/lens in case of fall: the replaceable plastic would simply tear, separating lens from camera.

0 upvotes

Smartphone sensor tech isn't there yet (it will be but not yet) to give you shots much better than a midrange point and shoot. This is pointless as it still requires you to carry a lens around as well as your phone. Might as well pick up a compact camera with a better sensor.

2 upvotes

the basic geometry of a phone simply doesn't allow for the thin small phone with small sensor and lens to compete with a compact camera.

that said, phone manufacturers are doing a great job of optimising the phone to make the most of what can be achieved.

0 upvotes
Turbguy1

Next thing you know, someone will patent the screw top bottle.

4 upvotes

They do. Do you think all screw top bottles are made the same?

3 upvotes
Turbguy1

And how much do you have to change the geometry to prevent violating a screw-top patent?

3 upvotes
Raul

Have you any idea on how many patent's subject-matter never reaches the light of day? What a waste of time on your side!

1 upvote
Lars Rehm

"Most patents never turn into a product..." yes, as you can read we are aware, but still I don't consider it a waste of time writing about it...

3 upvotes

A cycnic might think such patents are taken with a dog-in-a-manger attitude - they have no intention of commercialising the idea and want to be sure no one else can either, so they patent it.

Edited 11 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
Raul

The thing is: who would manufacture such a silly device.

0 upvotes

Count me among the doubters. But with a tweak or two—maybe, recess the mount so the back is flat without the add-on lens—there's a chance it'd be useful.

Most DP readers are comfortable carrying around spare lenses; a decent telephoto might be well under an inch long—hardly any issue at all. Note that almost all smartphone cameras have a VERY wide angle view—the iPhone's is about 30mm equivalent, longer than some but quite short for most of us—so normal, portrait and honest-to-God telephotos can't fit *in* the tiny phone without shrinking the sensor, and the quality, dramatically.

The breakaway feature seems paramount: no way I'd want a bit of mishandling to mangle the back of my phone.

So, no, not a ridiculous concept at all. Whether it sees light of day is nonetheless a question.

0 upvotes

"....It's also designed to release the lens on a hard impact without a twist in order to minimize potential damage to the lens and device if it was dropped...."

Name another lens mount that have this capability. Samsung fanboys... I don't know if they can read or not.

2 upvotes

...Can't tell if serious and just ignorant, or joking and just not funny...

http://www.phonearena.com/news/Nexus-5-huge-camera-ring-actually-holds-a-magnet-for-add-on-lenses_id50037

-Suntan

Edited 17 seconds after posting
0 upvotes

Suntan. You mean Nexus 5 copied magnetic coupling from Apple's MagSafe connector, 3rd party accessory maker and Japanese appliances from the 60s'.

Besides, Apple's is for a mechanical coupling with a safe release because magnetic coupling are not strong enough for a big lens.

0 upvotes

"Name another lens mount that have this capability."

Literally all of them.

Beneath the shiny metal of the mount, inside the lens sits the plastic.

The question was raised to lens designers once about "why so cheap?" and they have said that lens is intentionally coupled via plastic to the body to prevent fatal damage to the camera's mount. If camera falls, in many cases the plastic inside the lens would simply tear. To repair the damage, all you have to do is to replace the plastic piece inside the lens.

0 upvotes

“Literally all of them.”

I had the misfortune of a bicycling accident a while back, and landed atop my Canon DSLR. Probably cracked a rib. (It hurt quite a bit but I was far from a hospital & knew the standard treatment is to ride it out.)

I had my prime lens attached, fortunately capped and even a lens hood reversed, covering much of the body. So despite the accident, *it* survived my weight crashing down atop it.

Looking it over, I can't imagine how you'd expect the mounting mechanism to give way gracefully… the only way would've been for the lens to have been destroyed. That is ABSOLUTELY NOT how this patent reads.

I know you want to knock Apple's inventiveness, but this thing was granted by an examiner who actually knows something about mechanical engineering and saw (a) a unique mechanism, and (b) a description that matched the design.

0 upvotes

apple invented magnets dontchaknow. and electricity.

0 upvotes
JackM

If you're willing to pay for and carry a relatively large lens for your iPhone, there's no hope for you. Just get a real camera already, and if you must immediately share pictures, put an EyeFi card in it so you can quickly transfer to your phone.

0 upvotes
Jogger

just buy an RX100

1 upvote

xlnt, this will be a step in the right direction, provided they deliver a decent lens selection at launch, and at least a 2/3" sensor.

0 upvotes

I guess there's a possibility, if the camera were only to use the center part of that (relatively) huge sensor.

Smartphone cameras are already wide angle due to their (lack of) thickness. The focal length of the iPhone is 4.1mm, 30mm equivalent. A bigger sensor would deliver almost a fisheye image unless the lens protruded WAY out of the body.

As this mechanism might allow, but only with the understanding that your big sensor could only be utilized by the small fraction of phone buyers who used the add-on lens. Unlikely, I'd guess.

0 upvotes

why would it be limited to a small area? how would it be any different than a filter thread mounted lens adapter?

the wide angle lens is likely to satisfy the snapshot crowd, as many of the images to come out of cellphones are essentially snapshots, with a few that verge on more sophisticated photography

i have a lumia 1020. it has a 2/3" sensor. it's really not that thick.. unless one wears unreasonably tight pants.. it doesn't deliver fisheye images at all,. a bigger sensor would require a different lens than what exists currently, i'm sure they would figure out what focal length would best satisfy their market.. especially if it's a camera centric device.

0 upvotes

The lens and sensor should be a two in one module that just clips on to the top side.

1 upvote

That would just add needless expense w/o any benefit. I'd rather spend $400 on a great lens than on a so so lens and sensor.

1 upvote
neo_nights

You mean, Sony QX?

1 upvote

LOL Yes I mean like the Sony QX
I was a bit shocked when I looked that up.
It's a bit big though not to mention patented.

I think this bayonet idea is a good idea if the sensor is up to it.

0 upvotes

This clever bayonet isn't necessary for the QX type attachments, that don't actually need ANY physical connection.

Regards the sensor, the iPhone's is pretty good…for its tiny size. Bigger and you need more depth, a non-starter, I'd guess.

0 upvotes
Infared

Rut Roah!!!!!!!!!
....but I love "real" cameras soooooo much...this could be the beginning of the end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

0 upvotes

No way. Different camera forms will always have different advantages over each other. There will never be a phone with a large sensor (like APS-C or bigger) and a fast lens. Arrays are the next step but again I don't see them making cell phones with the ~13 or so 1/2.3" sensors it would take to get the sensor area of an APS-C camera.

0 upvotes
Eric Hensel

"There will never be a phone with a large sensor (like APS-C or bigger) and a fast lens. "
Never is a long time...

0 upvotes

Yes, because a “normal” lens for APS-C is something like 25mm. That means the focal point (pinhole) has to be an inch in front of the sensor, and you need more glass in front of that, likely another inch. You now have a cellphone that's almost as deep as it is wide.

0 upvotes

Looks a lot like the Moment Kickstarter project (which is lenses and a Bayonet mount adapter):
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/584288471/moment-amazing-lenses-for-mobile-photography

1 upvote
Lars Rehm

yep, but without the adapter...

0 upvotes

Let's be clear: the patentable part of the invention is for a bayonet mechanism that locks, but ALSO pops loose in response to sufficient pressure.

Right now, the Moment page shows a nice bayonet type design, but NOT one that even locks in place (still iterating) OR pops loose in a controlled manner.

Yes, the *idea* of a detachable lens is the same. Patents are never granted for ideas, only the specific implementations.

0 upvotes
kff

I expected a second camera with bigger sensor (like MFT / Pentax K size) + cover + extender hood with bayonet + cover of bayonet + lens (just compact lenses have definitely sense) ... Primarily for devices like iPad ... nobody has a camera with such a display with posibility to run Photoshop on the same device !!!

Edited 5 times; latest 9 minutes since posting
0 upvotes
Sonyshine

This could be a game changer if it ever happens!

0 upvotes

Patents make me smile. This one states: Various methods and apparatuses have been developed for coupling accessory devices to other items. For example, eyelets, hook and loop fasteners, threaded fasteners, and other mechanisms have been developed for this purpose. Such mechanisms are employed in a wide variety of applications.
They missed out mentioning velcro, sticky tape, zips and buttons. Most importantly they missed out bayonets. Why? Maybe because this invention is all about bayonets. Canon at least already uses bayonets to attach accessories in front of fixed lenses so what's new? having them release when dropped I guess.

Edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes

I'm no legal expert but looking at the patent application it seems to be for a bayonet mount with a safety release. As such it's quite clever and maybe original, but it doesn't attempt to patent the idea of using such a mount on a mobile device.

4 upvotes

lets stick slow zoom lenses on an already teeny tiny sensor.. go apple!

I hope nikon, canon, pentax, olympus and whoever else that created a lens mount before, sue them.

Edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
Lars Rehm

I am pretty sure it's all gong to be prime lenses, zoom would require something more complex like the Sony QX.

1 upvote
LensBeginner

Haha, was about to fall for it, then looked at the date...

1 upvote

But the patent is real :-)
They do'nt stop publishing patents at April 1.

1 upvote

The problem with Apple is that most if not all its patents (square shape with rounded edges and thin sides?) look like they were filed and approved on April 1. I was firmly convinced that this was DPR's second April 1 joke (and even wilder than the Olympus OM-G joke), but, alas, the link to the US patent office looks genuine...

0 upvotes
LensBeginner

I know it's real, it just beggars belief...

0 upvotes

You know what would be REAL nice? Is if some of you people who claim this idea is obvious or not innovative, could describe how it actually works.

Go ahead and show us that you have the mechanical engineering chops to understand it, rather than act as Boffo the Clown.

0 upvotes
LensBeginner

@WaltSomething
Disregarding the patently offensive part of your message, I believe that a bayonet mount for a smartphone is not practical nor desirable.
A magnetic mount would be much more fast and effective to use, and much less complex.

Complexity adds to the price of a product, did you know that?

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester

What about the patent that turns the rear DSLR screen into an iPhone interface via download?

.

1 upvote
Lars Rehm

Samsung's got that, Galaxy NX

1 upvote
Richard Murdey

It's not really a lens mount, it's a hard-point connection for an optional tele/wide-converter.

Makes perfect sense. Except that attaching anything to those itty-bitty tabs seems like a recipe for disaster...

Edited 24 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Lars Rehm

seems they've thought about that and designed it so it releases the lens on impact.

1 upvote
Richard Murdey

@Lars

I see, I must have missed that sentence when I read the post. With the quick-release safety feature this is definitely a patent-able idea.

(Sony are probably wishing they'd thought of it first.)

0 upvotes

For the man with a little iPhone you can now feel adequate again by attaching a big lens. I just can't see the turtle neck wearing, latte licking, bean bag reclining hipsters going for this.

1 upvote
Lars Rehm

well, 3rd party lens attachment are selling quite well, presumably to the hipsters you describe in such a non-stereo-typical way. So I'd guess many of these people would be quite interested in an Apple solution.

3 upvotes

No, they get a tiny Nikon 1 camera then add an F-mount adapter and a huge Nikkor lens instead...

0 upvotes

I truly cannot tell if this is a joke.

It sounds like an April Fools thing, but then I see a link to the Patent Office, and unless the US Patent office, which I'm sure is a barrel of laughs, has put up an April Fools prank, then this may be the dumbest patent I've seen in a long time.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

what makes it sooo dumb? In any case, I think the entry on the USPTO site gives in the seal of authenticity.

1 upvote
LensBeginner

The fact that the previously filed patent for a magnetic mount (copying that from the Nexus 5, apparently), for instance, which is IMHO a far better idea.

Edited 19 seconds after posting
0 upvotes

LensBeginner. Like how Nexus 5's magnetic mount is a copy of Apple's Smart Cover right?

0 upvotes
LensBeginner

...which in turn is a copy of fridge magnets.
Come on!
We're talking photography and add-on lenses, not display covers.
Try to be reasonable.

Edited 6 seconds after posting
0 upvotes

You may think the magnet idea is better, but that's for buyers, not the patent office, to decide. This approach is interesting… novel… in the best tradition of mechanical patents for innovation. And if nobody wants the extra precision or security of a similar mount to what real cameras insist on, why then it has cost nobody a penny.

0 upvotes

Wow! A lens mount, with like..three ears that lock into an opposite mount on the phone. How do they think of these unique things...

9 upvotes

...aside from the lens, iphone body is weather sealed, water resistant up to 5 meters deep, interchangeable sensor, real time linkage to ipad to allow preview, shockproof up to 2 meters dropped height, siri voice assistance for exposure, etc., built in light meter, direct linkage to smart tv, 4k video, improved battery life, 5.1 channel simulator, manual and auto pasm, raw capability... all these on iphone 6S... I think...

1 upvote

That's no smartphone, that's a 5th Gen iPod Touch and is clearly depicted as such. As a device whose primary audience buys it for the camera feature and app market, it is no surprise that Apple has come up with this as an innovation to the 5th gen given the lack of product differentiation to the iPhone (iPod sales are much lower than their other products). I doubt they would 'ruin' their flagship product with this monstrosity. But for the budget, phoneless alternative, "iPod", well it would certainly please all the hipsters out there...

0 upvotes

If it doesn't have an EVF I'm not buying it.

6 upvotes
Petrogel

April fool's day ?

2 upvotes
Lars Rehm

with an entry on the USPTO website you'd think it is legit.

1 upvote
Petrogel

Together with the remote control patent, the magnetic solution lens holder patent , the light field -like imaging system patent and who knows what's next patent, i believe Apple "will use this patent to sue anyone who'll design anything else about mobile devices." Like jt1953 wrote !!!!

0 upvotes
NK777

It is joke?

1 upvote

You didn't read the patent, did you?

A hell of a lot more work went into this mechanism than your cheap shot joke.

0 upvotes

And Apple will use this patent to sue anyone who designs a different mount for mobile devices.

9 upvotes
Total comments: 72
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