Canon patents new focusing method for liquid lenses


posted Monday, June 3, 2013 at 2:32 PM EDT


Liquid lenses have been used in other fields for years but they never quite made the transition to cameras. So while you'll find them used in medicine and even some eyeglasses, you're unlikely to use one in your shooting rig. However, Canon is still involved in the field, and has been awarded a new patent in Japan for a novel way to adjust a liquid lens.

As reported by DPReview, this patent still uses electrowetting to adjust the lens, but rather than modifying the shape of the water to create the lens directly, it uses the technique as a series of pumps to move the fluid in and out of a central chamber. (Because there are a series of pumps, each can be individually controlled for faster focusing and adjusted optics.)

While, so far, we haven't seen liquid lenses on cameras, Canon's patent obviously has this in mind, as the sample drawings show a camera with a lens comprised of concentric rings. Those rings, ostensibly, would be made of small triangular chambers that the liquid could be pumped into and out of.

Whether we'll actually see anything like this come to the market in the future is an entirely different question. But Canon is obviously interested in this technology, and it would provide a way of crafting a lens that doesn't need to move back and forth to focus, potentially meaning a much flatter camera.