Apple wants to make future iPhones and iPads even more durable. The company has been granted a patent (number 11563877 B2) for an “impact absorber” for portable devices.
About the patent
The patent relates generally to position control and more specifically to vibration reduction for managing the motion of camera components. The advent of small, mobile multipurpose devices such as smartphones and tablet or pad devices has resulted in a need for high-resolution, small form factor cameras for integration in the devices.
Some small form factor cameras may incorporate optical image stabilization (OIS) mechanisms that may sense and react to external excitation/disturbance by adjusting location of the optical lens on the X and/or Y axis in an attempt to compensate for unwanted motion of the lens.
Also, some small form factor cameras may incorporate an autofocus (AF) mechanism whereby the object focal distance can be adjusted to focus an object plane in front of the camera at an image plane to be captured by the image sensor. In some such autofocus mechanisms, the optical lens is moved as a single rigid body along the optical axis (referred to as the Z axis) of the camera to refocus the camera.
Apple says that, in addition, high image quality is easier to achieve in small form factor cameras if lens motion along the optical axis is accompanied by minimal parasitic motion in the other degrees of freedom, for example on the X and Y axes orthogonal to the optical (Z) axis of the camera.
The tech giant adds that some small form factor cameras that include autofocus mechanisms may also incorporate optical image stabilization (OIS) mechanisms that may sense and react to external excitation/disturbance by adjusting location of the optical lens on the X and/or Y axis in an attempt to compensate for unwanted motion of the lens. In such systems, Apple says the ability to dampen vibration of the position of the lens or absorb impact of the lens carrier with other components of the camera is useful.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “In some embodiments, a camera includes an optical package, a camera actuator for moving the optical package, a camera cover, and an impact absorption member to prevent contact between the camera cover and the lens carrier. In some embodiments, the camera actuator includes a lens carrier moveably mounted to a camera cover.”