Over the last year several Apple patents have surfaced describing their work on a future folded camera lens system relating to a periscope design for a future iPhone (01, 02 and 03) that will provide superior optical zoom capabilities. Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a new patent application from Apple that relates to optical prisms and more specifically to optical systems including single element light folding prisms for small form factor cameras.
Telephoto cameras generally have relatively long focal lengths and are great for capturing scenes and subject at a far distance. However, the advent of small, mobile multipurpose devices such as smartphones, tablet, pad, or wearable devices has created a need for high-resolution, small form factor cameras for integration in the devices.
Telephoto cameras using light folding prisms have typically utilized composite prisms constructed from combining multiple smaller prisms. However, composite prisms may exhibit lower optical performance, such as due to optical issues introduced by the method of joining multiple prisms. Therefore, it is desirable to have single element light folding prisms constructed from a single piece of material.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 illustrates an example of a single element light folding prism; FIG. 3 shows an example optical system including a single element light folding prism.
In various embodiments, the device may be any of various types of devices, including, but not limited to, an iPhone, iPad, Macs, netbook computer, mainframe computer system, handheld computer, workstation, network computer, a camera, Apple TV, a mobile device, an augmented reality (AR) and/or virtual reality (VR) headset, a consumer device, video game console, handheld video game device, application server, storage device, a television, a video recording device, a peripheral device such as a switch, modem, router, or in general any type of computing or electronic device.
The folded camera may be for both face and rear cameras.
For camera buffs and engineers wanting to dig further into the details and view a wider range of patent figures, see Apple's patent application number 20220163706.
Glass Device Housings
One More Thing: Apple continues to work on Glass Device Housings that goes back a decade. You could review our 2015 report on one of their granted patents for this invention here. Today the U.S. Patent Office published another update to this invention under number 20220161385.
Apple has added an additional 20 patent claims added new things like "the housing structure comprises a metal structure" and "the electronic device housing includes a clear portion through which the display is visible." The title of the patent in 2014 was "Fused Glass Device Housings" whereas today's update changes the title to simply "Glass Device Housings."