USPTO Publishes New Apple Patent That Will Give ‘Artificial Muscles’ To iPhone Camera Lenses

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Apple filed new iPhone camera patent to give ‘artificial muscles’ to camera lenses

A new iPhone camera patent application by Apple has been published on Thursday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The filing, with U.S. Patent Application No. 20140168799, is titled ?Artificial muscle camera lens actuator.? This invention plans to replace conventional motors with a synthetic structure to control aperture size and focus of the iPhone?s camera lens.

The application, first spotted by AppleInsider, cites that the concept isn?t entirely new. Proposals to integrate artificial muscle technology with camera actuators have apparently been around for some time. However, electro-active polymer (EAP) materials needed to implement the technology are not yet ready for large-scale production until recently.

According to the iPhone camera patent filing, what has changed is that EAP materials may now be developed and engineered for mass manufacture. Apple proposed that their ?completely engineered solution? includes the fabrication of EAP materials to become truncated in shape or ?frusto-conical shape.? These are then sandwiched by a positive electrode beneath and a negative electrode above. The result will be an ?artificial muscle? that can be activated to move the lens-EAP assembly downwards or upwards. This movement will be powered by charging electrical potential between the positive and negative electrodes.

Visual representation of the new iPhone camera patent application published by the USPTO

Visual representation of the new iPhone camera patent application published by the USPTO

So what benefits does this iPhone camera patent ?bring to future models? If implemented, this technology “may exhibit extremely low power consumption.” Battery power is frequently one of the most important attributes that consumers consider before buying new handsets. So a better way to consume power would be a welcome adjustment. Another supposed benefit is that this EAP-based focusing system may provide “significant cost reduction” versus traditional coil-motor focusing commonly used today.

As expected, there is no way we can predict when this new iPhone camera patent will be reflected in actual iPhone models. But if this artificial muscle camera lenses indeed deliver what they promised, it may give Apple additional traction against the ever-growing mobile photography competition. Recently, Amazon has joined the race with the release of their new Fire Phone. The model boasts of a camera with self-proclaimed incredible photo-taking features.


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