Apple Files Patent for Folded Camera Lens With Advanced Zoom Capabilities

Apple has filed a patent application for a folded camera lens with advanced zoom capabilities for future devices.

According to a new patent application filed with the US Patent & Trademark Office (via Patently Apple), Apple is working on a new camera system that involves a folding lens mechanism, allowing it to function within smaller form factors.

“A folded lens system may include one or more prisms and/or mirrors, and a lens stack of a plurality of lens groups, each lens group including one or more refractive lens elements such that positions of different ones of the lens groups along an optical axis may be varied, enabling magnification of an image to be varied, and enabling a “zoom” feature, e.g., continuous magnification of an image of an object between two endpoints of magnification,” Patently Apple explains.

According to the report, the lens system includes at least three movable lens groups, each coupled to a corresponding actuator. “Responsive to a request for a change in focal length or magnification, a controller sends a corresponding signal to each of the actuators that move the corresponding lens group by a corresponding distance in a corresponding direction.”

The lens group can then be moved by different distances and in different directions of movement. Image focusing on an image sensor is then completed by adjusting the position along the optical axis of one of the moveable groups.

Like most patents, Apple doesn’t want to limit this zoom camera feature to just an iPhone and lists possible future applications and devices as follows:

“A personal computer system, desktop computer, laptop, notebook, tablet, slate, pad, or netbook computer, mainframe computer system, handheld computer, workstation, network computer, a camera, a set top box, 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.”