Apple Patents Granted for Use of Interchangeable iPhone Camera Lenses
Apple Patents for Interchangeable Camera Lenses Granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office
Two Apple patents have been granted for interchangeable camera lenses for iPhone device. These patents are for different methods for attaching the lenses and the camera modules to some portable electronic device. A magnetic solution is also included with a motor for adjustment to the physical optics. The first of the Apple patents is No. 8,638,369. It is for a “Back panel for a portable electronic device with different camera lens options”. The other patent is No. 8,639,106. It is for a “Magnetic add-on lenses with alignment ridge”. The Apple patents were granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The 8,638,369 was first brought out as an application, in 2012. It describes a portable device, e.g. an iPhone. The electronic device includes an imaging subsystem and a removable panel which has optical components. That subsystem is meant as the basis of the camera system. The removable components can bring great changes to the optical characteristics. Examples of such changes are e.g. an attachment for a wide angle lens, or an electrical module for zooming and for image stabilization. The inventor, Richard Tsai, filed for the patent in 2010.
The second of the Apple patents is a new publication. The magnetically attachable camera module extends the imaging capabilities of the electronic device to which it is attached. There is an alignment capability in the device which enables the attaching of a separate camera module. There are two techniques of attaching the module. It can be attached in the housing aperture. It can alternatively be attached by means of fitting the alignment mechanism to the camera module.
There can be one or more movable elements in the lens assembly. They can be moved by a voice coil motor. The wire coil of the motor is wound to the lens element. The assembly is surrounded by permanent magnets. There is a controlled magnetic field created when electric current passes through the cpol. So the lens can move with respect to the static magnet poles. The voice call motor can be used for image stabilization, for auto focusing, for zooming, etc. The detachable lens assembly can be used to support iterations, e.g. a module implementing a light pipe, directing the light from an iPhone flash to a ring shaped light structure.
Source: Apple Insider