Apple Taps UK Engineer for New Optical Image Stabilization System for iOS Device Cameras

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In line with yesterday's report claiming that the iPhone 6 will retain an 8-megapixel rear camera while focusing on other aspects such as image stabilization to improve performance, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office yesterday published an Apple patent application (via Unwired View) outlining a system for implementing optical image stabilization (OIS) with improved autofocus (AF) capabilities in miniature camera such as those found on iOS devices.

Apple's iPhone 5s introduced last September includes software-based image stabilization, a system that involves taking four photos in quick succession and then combining the best parts of each to produce a final image minimizing noise, subject motion, and hand shake. Optical image stabilization, found in some smartphones and many standalone cameras, allows the actual camera lens to move slightly, buffering against hand shake and other small movements.

The newly published patent application from Apple describes a method for integrating optical image stabilization into the voice coil motor (VCM) actuators used for autofocus in miniature cameras.
An embodiment of the invention is an actuator module suitable for use in a camera, more specifically, a miniature camera. The actuator module may include a mechanism to provide an AF function and a mechanism to provide an OIS function. [...]

The combination of the AF mechanism and OIS mechanism within a single actuator module allows the actuator module to modify the position of the lens relative to the image sensor along five different axes (i.e., 5 degrees of freedom (DOF)). Representatively, the lens may be shifted or translated along at least three different axes and rotated about at least two different axes.
Apple's patent application, filed in October 2012 and based on a provisional patent application filed in July of that year, credits a sole inventor, Richard Topliss. According to his LinkedIn profile, Topliss joined Apple as a senior camera technology specialist in January 2012 after spending over a decade as chief technical officer of Cambridge Mechatronics in the UK. That company currently focuses on OIS actuators for smartphones, and today's patent application makes clear that Topliss immediately brought that expertise to bear at Apple.

Cambridge Mechatronics began sampling its latest OIS actuators to customers last August, with the modules expected to begin appearing in smartphones early this year. It is unclear whether Apple is working directly with Cambridge Mechatronics on lens module projects, but the two companies are clearly working on very similar technology and have a natural connection through Topliss.

Article Link: Apple Taps UK Engineer for New Optical Image Stabilization System for iOS Device Cameras
 

tsadi

macrumors member
Feb 23, 2011
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0
Optical Image Stabilization in DSLR lenses allow me to take 1/10 second exposures without shaky-hand blur. Without OIS it's 1/20 seconds for me at best. (yeah, I have shaky hands)

The improvements this will bring to iPhone cameras should allow us to take pictures in a much wider array of environments, and that is an awesome addition to have.
 

avanpelt

macrumors 68030
Jun 2, 2010
2,919
3,687
I think we have the beginnings of the iPhone 6 camera. Maybe not 12 or 16 megapixel but optical image stabilization. That would be a welcome feature for me.

Sometimes, I have to take two or three pictures of the same thing in quick succession with my iPhone 5 just to ensure that I have at least one that's in perfect focus. I hardly ever delete the out of focus ones so they're just using bandwidth for the transfer to iCloud and cluttering up Photo Stream.
 

wickoo

macrumors member
Jul 15, 2011
67
0
The thing I find most annoying for low light photography on the iPhone is the autofocus. The passive AF takes forever to find the right setting and it lights up the LED throughout the process, annoying the subjects.

I think Apple should add an active AF, an instantaneous sensor at the back of the phone to tell it how far away the subject is. That would be such a great improvement.
 

Leonard1818

macrumors 68020
Nov 15, 2011
2,459
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I'm glad to see they are focusing on the details. I think that will help the overall success when looking at the big picture.
 

Freida

macrumors 68020
Oct 22, 2010
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2,590
I'm glad to see they are focusing on the details. I think that will help the overall success when looking at the big picture.
how old are you that you have to put it in bold just to show how "witty" you are? 12?
 

bretm

macrumors 68000
Apr 12, 2002
1,951
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Optical Image Stabilization in DSLR lenses allow me to take 1/10 second exposures without shaky-hand blur. Without OIS it's 1/20 seconds for me at best. (yeah, I have shaky hands)

The improvements this will bring to iPhone cameras should allow us to take pictures in a much wider array of environments, and that is an awesome addition to have.
It's directly related to the length of the lens. And that's related to the image plane. In the old 35mm days, the diagonal of the film plane was just under 50mm. (47mm?) So a 50mm lens was roughly as the eye say things. No distortion. And on a system like that you could hold the camera steady usually for an even increment of the lens length. So, a 1/60th was all you should expect to hold the camera still without a tripod.

By that same analogy, I would assume you should be able to hold the camera steady at 1/60th at whatever is the normal focal length of your camera. Nowaday they call it 1x,2x, etc. but 1x could still be a wide angle. Wider angles are much easier to hold steady.

In any case, 1/10 is pretty good! There are techniques you can use like taking the shot after you exhale, resting your elbow on your midsection, etc.
 

Dinø

macrumors member
Dec 1, 2010
68
0
Representatively, the lens may be shifted or translated along at least three different axes

Smart of the lawyer to word this in such a way that beings living in four-dimensional space will still have to pay royalties.
 

DTphonehome

macrumors 68000
Apr 4, 2003
1,770
2,276
NYC
This is an important improvement to the iPhone camera. So many of my pics come out blurry due to a bit of shaking as I press the shutter button.
 

Jsameds

Suspended
Apr 22, 2008
3,525
7,985
Apple has finally expanded into the hottub business:

Image
Does it run OSX? If so does it feature the ability to instantly recall previous parties in said Hot Tub, and then seamlessly drag any past guests to the present?

You know, like a Hot Tub Time Machine?
 
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