Apple's iPhone 6 Plus introduced optical image stabilization that works with the A8 chip, gyroscope and M8 motion coprocessor to measure motion data and provide precise lens movement to compensate for hand shake in lower light. The fusing together of long- and short-exposure images also helps to reduce subject motion. This unique integration of hardware and software delivers beautiful low-light photos. Today, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals their method of using multiple magnets affixed to the iSight camera lens assembly structure to deliver advanced optical image stabilization for the new iPhone 6-Plus.
Apple's Patent Background
For high-end computing devices, it is common to incorporate miniature cameras, with `optical image stabilization` (OIS) using magnetic coils, whereby the object focal distance is adjusted to allow objects at different distances to be in sharp focus at the image plane, to be captured by the digital image sensor. There have been many proposals for achieving such adjustment of focal position.
Demands on improvements to performance of such miniature cameras are constant, as are demands for continued miniaturization, given the added features and devices added to such mobile devices.
In particular, demands to decrease the dimensions of camera components and demands for high image quality continue to create an ongoing desire for camera components that exhibit superior performance as measured in various ways, while consuming less space.
Apple's Invention: Magnetic Camera Component Mounted in Cameras (for OIS)
Apple's invention provides an actuator module for optical image stabilization of a lens assembly relative to an image sensor in a camera. In some embodiments, the actuator module includes a coil mounting structure. A plurality of optical image stabilization (OIS) coils is mounted to the coil mounting structure. Some embodiments include a lens assembly structure configured to hold a lens assembly.
A plurality of magnets is affixed to the lens assembly structure. Some embodiments include a spring assembly for coupling the coil mounting structure to the lens assembly structure, such that the lens assembly structure is movable relative to the coil mounting structure in a plane orthogonal to an optical axis of the lens assembly.
In some embodiments, the lens assembly comprises a light input side and an opposing light exit side for providing light for an image to an image sensor. The plurality of OIS coils is mounted closer to the light input side than the plurality of magnets.
Camera Module of a Multifunction Device and Placement of Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) Coils
Apple's patent FIG. 3 noted below illustrates a camera module. A camera (image capture device) #300 is shown. Optical image stabilization coils #310 are mounted adjacent to Hall sensors (not visible) on an "underside," (i.e., between the sensors and) magnets 320.
Apple's patent FIG. 4B illustrates a camera module with optical image stabilization coils moved to a position opposite the image sensor, according to some embodiments. A camera #400 is shown. Optical image stabilization coils #410 are mounted opposite to Hall sensors #430 on top of (i.e., opposite the sensors with respect to) magnets #420. Corner laser direct structuring traces #440 conduct electrical power to the optical image stabilization coils.
In some embodiments, an actuator module support structure #450 includes a module cover #460. A focusing mechanism #470 is suspended on the actuator module support structure by a suspension means #480 configured to limit relative motion of a lens carrier (barrel #490) mounted to the focusing mechanism #470. A plurality of magnets #420 affixed beneath the module cover at positions in a plane orthogonal to an optical axis of a lens #405 mounted in the lens carrier. A plurality of optical image stabilization coils are mounted between the cover and the plurality of magnets.
Apple's patent FIG. 11 noted above illustrates an actuator in elevation view, showing a cross-section across the middle, according to some embodiments. FIG. 11 illustrates a cutaway view of a camera module with optical image stabilization coils moved to a position opposite the image sensor, according to some embodiments.
Apple credits Scott Miller, David Beard, Douglas Brodie and Aurelien Hubert as the inventors of patent application 20150195439 which was originally filed in Q2 2014.
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