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Apple Inc. (AAPL) Patents New 3-Sensor Camera Module With True Zoom Lenses, Space-Efficient Optical Image Stabilization

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has just been granted a patent that may result in a smaller and better camera module for the iPhones and other iDevices.

First spotted by Apple Insider, the new Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) patent titled “Digital camera with light splitter” (U.S Patent No. 8,988,564) was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today.

This camera module aims to take better photos by separating light into different colors that are then captured by three or more dedicated sensors; using a true zoom lens system to change magnification while maintaining focus; and using movable mirrors that simplifies and makes the camera module’s optical image stabilization system (OIS) more space-efficient.

The patent describes a system that uses prisms to primarily separate light from a camera scene into red, green and blue light which are then passed on to dedicated sensors. As noted by Apple Insider, splitting light into separate color components for dedicated sensors to pick up results in not needing color channel processing which in turn maximizes pixel array resolution.

The patent also says that “the light splitter may alternatively be designed to split the incident light into a different set of color components” like “cyan, yellow, green, magenta” (CYGM) and “red, green, blue, emerald (RGBE). Color splitting can also be used for better polarization imaging, as discussed by the patent, as the described mechanism reduces incident light wastage compared to other camera systems. The splitter array can also be used for better feature detection and extraction. Essentially, this camera module may enable capturing more detailed images through glare, clouds, fog or rain.

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) also discussed in the patent the use of a folding mirror mechanism that may be moved for OIS. This may reduce the size of the camera module as it can eliminate or reduce components found in traditional OIS systems that need to move the sensor or sensors of the camera or move the lens elements of the camera, or a combination of both, to compensate for shake.

Furthermore, the new Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) patent describes and shows in a figure the inclusion of a zoom lens mechanism with multiple lens elements which can be actuated by motors. This means the new camera module is ideally capable of achieving different magnifications and fields of view. Furthermore, the consumer electronics giant says that the zoom lens system “may be a true zoom lens that can also maintain focus when its magnification or focal length is changed.”

Daniel S. Och’s OZ Management owned about 1.58 million Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares by the end of 2014’s December quarter, a staggering 5,134% quarter over quarter increase. The institutional investor’s shares in the consumer electronics giant was valued at the end of 2014 at about $174.25 million and made up 0.47% of the whole OZ Management portfolio.

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