I’m skeptical that Apple will ever make its own accessory lenses for the iPhone or iPad, but you never know. The tech giant has been granted a patent (number 10,534,154) for “interlock arrangement for attaching a lens barrel to a lens carrier” that will, at least, make it easier for third parties to make photographic accessories for iOS and iPad OS devices.
In the patent filing info, Apple notes that 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 include a lens barrel that is threaded so that it can be fastened to another camera component.
What’s more, some small form factor cameras may include a lens barrel that is bonded to another camera component using an adhesive. Apple says that in some such designs, the bond between the lens barrel and the other camera component may be fragile due to the adhesive being primarily in tension and/or shear under certain circumstances (e.g., a drop event), and therefore the lens barrel may tend to detach from the other camera component. The tech giant thinks it can do better.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Various embodiments include an interlock arrangement that may be used to attach a lens barrel to a lens carrier of a camera. In some embodiments, the interlock arrangement may restrict movement of the lens barrel relative to the lens carrier along at least an optical axis. In various examples, the interlock arrangement may include one or more grooves and one or more protrusions.
“For instance, a groove may be defined by the lens barrel or the lens carrier, and a protrusion may extend from the lens barrel or the lens carrier to at least partially into the groove. In some cases, the interlock arrangement may include an adhesive that at least partially fills gaps within the interlock arrangement between the lens barrel and the lens carrier. According to some embodiments, the interlock arrangement may include one or more recesses that provide inlets for the adhesive to be introduced to the gaps within the interlock arrangement.”