Apple has filed for a patent (number 20190212632) for a “camera with folded optics having a moveable lens.” It shows the tech giant is examining new ways to reduce unwanted motion when taking pics with an iPhone or iPad.
In the patent filing, Apple says that the advent of small, mobile multipurpose devices such as iPhones and iPads 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.
Other 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 of the camera to refocus the camera. Apple thinks it can do better.
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.