Apple Files Patent For Extra Wide-Angle Lens Camera
Apple is well-known for its smartphone cameras, which are set to get even better, going by recent developments. The smartphone company recently went on a acquisition spree of camera technology companies, including InVisage, which uses quantum dot technology and can help Apple design its own lenses.
As it turns out, the company is also working on a new style of lenses which will be capable of taking extra wide angle shots. The company has filed a patent in Taiwan for infrared imaging lenses.
“Near-infrared (NIR) imaging devices capture light in the wavelength range of 800nm to 1300nm. Such devices are used, inter alia, for medical diagnosis, food inspection and night vision. NIR imaging devices have also attracted increasing interest for application in various consumer electronic technologies, such as pattern-based depth mapping,” the patent states.
One of the inventors listed in the patent include a former optics engineer for the camera company Fujifilm, who now works at Apple.
Pattern mapping, which is listed in the patent, is what makes its FaceID possible in iPhones. In addition to pattern mapping, the patent also mentions a new kind of wide-angle lens.
“The present invention exploit this design approach to provide fast, wide-angle, miniature imaging lenses that can be used for high-resolution NIR imaging, for example in portable electronic devices. A particular embodiment that is described provides a lens of this sort that is capable of operating at F/2.0 with a diagonal full field of view of 84.degree., and with optical distortion no greater than 2% across the image” the patent further states.
An f/2.0 lens could make imaging better than current iPhones. The company’s most wide-angle lens till date is on the iPhone 7 and its successors including iPhone X and iPhone 8, with an f/1.8 aperture.
This, combined with the near-infrared imaging, could provide the iPhone camera with night vision — the possibility of seeing objects in totally dark conditions. The technology is currently used as a battlefield technology by militaries all over the world.
The technology might also be applied to a rumored Apple product — AR capable smartglasses. A smartglass device with night vision could provide Apple an advantage over rivals such as Samsung, who are also rumored to be working on similar technology.
It could also help Apple resolve a constant complaint of users — the current wide angle lens shows flare in images when exposed to light.
Apple has been improving its cameras with every new generation of iPhones. While it introduced dual rear cameras with the iPhone 7 Plus, the iPhone X has a TrueDepth camerathat creates better depth of field. The company is currently offering two kinds of dual-camera setups — a horizontal one on the iPhone 8 Plus and a vertical one on the iPhone X.