Apple Invents an iPhone Adapter Accessory Device for Camera Stabilizers aimed at Photographers and Vloggers
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to adapters that can attach phones or other electronic devices to camera stabilizers, where the adapters are highly portable and are useful in a number of situations and environments. Should Apple release such an accessory product in the future, it'll be directly competing with the likes of JOBY. Whether Apple will license their patented design or compete directly is unknown at this time.
Apple notes that in many circumstances, iPhone cameras might be used for very long periods. They can also be used in power-intensive applications such as recording video. As such, it can also be desirable that an iPhone be able to be charged while the phones are mated to the adapters. Since these adapters might be used in various environments, it can also be desirable that the cameras on the phones be readily placed in various orientations or positions to provide flexibility for a user.
Apple's invention can provide adapters that can attach iPhones or other electronic devices to camera stabilizers, where the adapters are highly portable and are useful in a number of situations and environments.
An illustrative embodiment of the present invention can provide an adapter having a lateral base portion having an opening. The opening can be used to fasten the adapter to a camera stabilizer such as a tripod, gimbal, pier, drone, or other device.
The adapter can further have an upright portion, where the upright portion can include a contacting surface for physically contacting an iPhone. The contacting surface can have a high friction or high stiction surface to increase friction between the adapter and phone. This can increase a shear force needed to remove the phone from the adapter.
The upright portion and the base portion can be connected through a fixed right angle. The upright portion and the base portion can alternatively be connected though a hinge. This can allow the upright portion to be folded closed, that is, next to the base portion for a more compact arrangement, or opened to an angle, such as a right-angle. This can allow the adapter to more adroitly fit in a user's likely already crowded bag or backpack.
The upright portion can further include an enclosure forming a ring around the contacting surface, as well as sides and a back of the upright portion. The enclosure can house or support an attachment feature to attach an iPhone or other electronic device to the adapter.
The attachment feature can be a magnet, a plurality of magnets, or a first magnet array. The attachment feature, such as a first magnet array, can magnetically attract a second attachment feature, such as a second magnet array, in a phone or other electronic device.
The first magnet array can be positioned behind the ring around the contacting surface or elsewhere in the enclosure. The first magnet array can be fixed in place in the enclosure. Alternatively, when the phone or other electronic device is in proximity to the adapter, the first magnet array can move within the enclosure towards the contacting surface to increase the magnetic attraction between the phone and the adapter. This can increase a normal force necessary to remove the phone from the adapter.
The first magnet array can have a shape and arrangement such that the phone (and its camera) can be freely rotatable about an axis of connection with the adapter. This can help in leveling and otherwise positioning the camera in a portrait or landscape mode, as well as at any angle between them.
The adapter can further include additional magnets separate from the first magnet array to improve the alignment of the phone to the adapter at a specific position, such as in a portrait, landscape, or other orientation.
The magnetic attachment between the electronic device and the adapter can provide a fast and simple way of attaching a phone or other electronic device to a camera stabilizer.
The enclosure can further include charging components such as an inductive coil for providing inductive charging and transmitting data to the iPhone and for receiving data from the iPhone.
The enclosure can further include shielding to magnetically isolate the inductive coil from the first magnet array. This isolation can improve inductive coupling from the inductive coil to a corresponding coil of a power receiving iPhone or electronic device. Control electronics that receive an input power supply and generate alternating currents through the inductive coil can also be included in the enclosure. These alternating currents can generate a time-varying magnetic flux in the corresponding coil. The time-varying magnetic flux can generate currents in the corresponding coil that can be used to charge a battery in the phone.
The time-varying magnetic flux can be modulated to transmit data to the phone. The control electronics can also sense currents induced in the coil in the adapter by the phone or other electronic device. The control circuitry can further read data transmitted by the phone using these induced currents. The data can include device identification for the phone, charge status, charging level requests, and other information.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates an adapter for a camera stabilizer according to an embodiment of the present invention; FIG. 2 illustrates an adapter for a camera stabilizer; FIG. 3 illustrates the backside of the adapter of FIG. 2; FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B illustrate an adapter for a camera stabilizer with lightning ports.
In FIG. 1 above, the adapter #100 can be used to secure electronic device #180 to camera stabilizer #190. In this particular example, the electronic device can be an iPhone, though the electronic device can instead be a tablet computer, wearable computing device, camera (such as an SLR or a camera colloquially referred to as a point and shoot camera), or other electronic or mechanical device.
The electronic device can include one or more lenses, flash units, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) Scanners or other components. The camera stabilizer is shown as a tripod, though camera stabilizer 190 can instead be a gimbal, pier, drone, or other camera stabilizer or other control or positioning device.
In these and other embodiments of the present invention, the adapter can be a passive adapter to mechanically secure an electronic device to the camera stabilizer.
In these and other embodiments the present invention, the adapter can instead be a powered adapter. When the adapter is a powered adapter, the adapter can include a connector receptacle 450 (shown in FIG. 4 such as a lightning port) or a cable (not shown.) A power converter (not shown) can further be included in the adapter or can be separate from the adapter and attached to the camera stabilizer or elsewhere.
For more details, review Apple's patent application number 20220042643. This is the third magnets-based patents published today. The first two patents covering the use of magnets was covered in our report titled "An Apple Patent Filing for a Magnetic Car Vent Mount Device may already be Marketed by Belkin, and more. In fact, all three patents have certain overlapping patent figures.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.