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Apple Granted ‘Periscope’ Compact Zoom Lens Patent

The USA Patent and Trademark Workplace has granted Apple a patent for a compact digicam that makes use of a set of prisms to “fold” mild and compress the quantity of area wanted for a telephoto lens. The sort of lens is usually known as a “periscope” lens in smartphones.

As some background, “periscope” is the time period used to explain a “folded” lens system that may squeeze better zoom capabilities into the tiny digicam arrays present in smartphones by redirecting mild sideways by means of the physique of the machine by way of a sequence of lenses and mirrors or prisms. The idea has been utilized in different smartphones not made by Apple, just like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra’s 10x optical zoom.

Earlier this 12 months, famed Apple knowledgeable Ming-Chi Kuo stated that Apple was at least two years from implementing the know-how in its units, which means it’s extremely seemingly that Apple customers will likely be caught with low-powered two to 3 occasions optical zoom for the following couple of years. Apple has filed multiple patents for a periscope-like lens system prior to now, and as we speak’s newest is simply one other added to the stack. Considered one of its patents was filed back in 2015, and but no iPhone has but to make use of the tech.

The patent, reported by Patently Apple and noticed by DPReview, describes a “folded” digicam lens that could be utilized in small kind issue cameras, like smartphones. It makes use of two mild folding components — on this case, prisms — and an unbiased lens system ocated beetween them that features an aperture cease and lens components with refactive energy mounted in a lens barrel.

The prisms “fold” the optical axis for the digicam and scale back the z-height of the system. Contained in the stack are a number of refractive lens components mounted in a lens barrel.

The levels by which the periscope system works.

Considerably disappointingly, Patently Apple studies that this specific patent solely describes an optical zoom of 3x, which isn’t rather more than the 2.5x optical zoom discovered on the iPhone 12 Professional Max. Contemplating that periscope digicam techniques are able to significantly extra zoom compressed into a good area — as talked about, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Extremely achieves 10x optical zoom with its periscope digicam — 3x zoom feels far wanting what shoppers would seemingly count on out of a periscope system in an Apple machine. It’s one factor to be late to the sport — which Apple already is — however one other to be late in addition to worse.

Regardless of the case, if Kuo is to be believed, this patent together with the opposite periscope designs Apple has patented to date gained’t see use in a digicam system till at least 2023.

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