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Apple files patent application for artificial muscle camera lens actuator

15

The guys from Apple Insider have discovered another camera-related patent from Apple. The document titled "Artificial muscle camera lens actuator" describes how a single artificial muscle structure is used to replace traditional motors to control focus and aperture in a camera module. The design is interesting because it can carry relatively large and heavy optics and consumes very little power.

According to Apple the idea has been floating around for some time but only now are the electro-active polymer (EAP) materials required for the technology ready for mass production. 

The Apple design is based on a micro electromechanical system (MEMS) design that uses an EAP layer with an opening which acts as the lens aperture. This opening can be moved and controlled via electrodes which are attached to either side of the EAP layer. 

As usual it is impossible to know if Apple has any plans to apply this technology in any of its upcoming phones or tablets. However, with battery life being one of the major points of criticism of current device generations any technology that can reduce power consumption would certainly be welcome by consumers. Click on the links below for a more detailed breakdown of the technology.

Source: USPTO|Via: Apple Insider 


Comments

Total comments: 15
quiquae

Did you notice this invention covers variable aperture in addition to variable focus? Is the world finally headed toward variable aperture on mobile phones?

0 upvotes
Jim Salvas

Has anyone noticed this is exactly 20 years to the day after the introduction of the Apple QuickTake 100, the first mass market digital camera?

0 upvotes
fmian

Actually, the Fuji DS-1P was the first fully contained consumer digital camera (non video) in 1988.
The Apple camera you mention was released in 1994 and made by Kodak.

Comment edited 28 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Jim Salvas

"Mass market" was my key phrase. That Fuji was never marketed. The follow up model, which was sold, was priced at $20,000 for the kit.

1 upvote
fmian

I see your point Jim. You did say mass market and $20,000 isn't mass market.
How about under $1000 a few years prior to the Apple product? Marketed under various brand names such as Logitech.
http://www.cameracuriosities.com/2012/02/dycam-model-1.html
This had numerous versions over the years and became cheaper before the Apple product was launched.
Not trying to start a fight, just that Apple products often claim to be a first at something when they are not.

2 upvotes
David G. Sommers

This is an innovation, not just an engineering solution to a common problem. It deserves a patent.

7 upvotes
MaxiMax

The patent laws should be changed. There is just too much greediness out there for inventions that are not really inventions. Let' s say, the fork and the knive has been invented. Could I then make an exclusive patent for eating with two forks?

4 upvotes
Petrogel

Totally agreed, and there is an example of what you say :

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2014/05/06/did-amazon-just-patent-the-seamless-background-setup?utm_campaign=internal-link&utm_source=news-list&utm_medium=text&ref=title_3_32

Comment edited 11 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
forpetessake

Will they finally stop patenting trivialities? Every large company tries to create a mine field of stupid patents hoping to kill everybody who can pose a danger to their domination.

6 upvotes
JadedGamer

Everything is "trivial" in hindsight, so we should drop patents altogether. In the same vein, since there are only seven core story plots, we should abandon copyright on books and movies since they are just derivatives of those....

0 upvotes
Petrogel

Together with the 3D interactive hologram display system, 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 those patents to sue anyone who'll design or use anything else about mobile devices in the future." like someone once said !!!!!
Apple the "meta-Jobs" free falling era.

7 upvotes
Zeisschen

If they come out with usable products it's their right to do so. Wait for next year, suddenly Samsungs sensors will all be curved and if it's just melted by means of a hot candle. As long as it had the specs it's enough for Samsung, and for the stupid customers as well...

3 upvotes
Petrogel

-As long there are stupid products surely you'll be stupid customers.
-As for the article, this Electroactive polymeric Iris will be very interesting to be seen inside the -let's say- iPhone 6, but i'm afraid we won't.
-Now, about the curved sensors they exist for more than five years, just like the tunable optics , but neither of them have been seen on smartphones ( and IMO won't be be for the next 5 years, if not more) as there are more expensive compared to the conventional lenses and sensors
Here are some links for further information, if you feel like it .

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2013/05/03/Engineers-develop-camera-that-mimics-insects-compound-eyes?utm_campaign=internal-link&utm_source=related-news&utm_medium=text&ref=related-news

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2011/1/19/curvilinearcamera

http://www.vision-systems.com/articles/print/volume-15/issue-7/Features/Tunable_Optics.html

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Petrogel

My apologies, for a mistake while typing at first row : …. will be stupid customers and not you'll be stupid customers

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW

Combine this with Sony's curved sensor ideas and you have something promising.

3 upvotes
Total comments: 15
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