This pair of Apple patents hints at folded optics in future iPhones

by Gannon Burgett

posted Friday, October 9, 2015 at 1:19 PM EST

It looks like Light isn’t the only mobile-oriented camera company that wants to make use of folded optics. According to a pair of patents published last month, Apple is also looking to utilize the dimension-saving technique to make more impressive cameras without adding bulk to its devices.

In the text and illustrations within the patent documentation, originally filed in May 2014, Apple has already developed an entire collection of optical formulas that it could potentially implement into upcoming iOS devices such as the iPhone. In particular, the patent makes mention of a 10mm f/2.8 and 14mm f/2.8 lens, which end up being the equivalent of roughly 150mm and 200mm, respectively. Optical formulas for zoom lenses are also illustrated and mentioned.

By utilizing a folded optics design, which uses an internal mirror to effectively extend the focal length and complexity of the lens without increasing the device’s thickness, Apple could continue to keep its devices as thin as current generations while improving the camera capabilities.

Folded optics isn’t a new idea by any means. In fact, the Light L16 camera announced yesterday uses this exact technology to create multiple focal lengths that would otherwise be impossible to achieve in such a thin device. An analog example is Tessina’s Concave S.A camera, first introduced in 1957, which used a 45º mirror to reflect light onto the film for an exposure.

Below are the patent documents for you to browse through:


(via PhotographyBay via Patently Apple)