Apple to use Curved Image Sensor for Smaller and Better iPhone Camera

iphone-camera-lens-closeupPhoto credit: janitors | cc 2.0

Whenever Apple releases a new iPhone, the large fan base of the brand starts looking at the next iPhone Apple would release and the speculations just start rolling out.

Unlike before – as always revolutionising with the slimness and lightness of the iPhone, the latest news is about using a uniquely curved image sensor “Small Form Factor High Resolution Camera” that is found in the 53 patents granted to Apple later last month.

The patent imagery shows a camera sensor which is not flat like in conventional camera systems. It’s rather spherically curved. “The inner surface is covered with light-capturing photosites much as a normal flat sensor would be, while the outer surface is fitted with connectors and other components for integration into the camera system.” as reports Forbes. The curved sensor occupies a little more depth than a traditional flat sensor, but at the same time occupies a smaller footprint.

Apple-Curved-Lens-Patent

If you are thinking what actually are the advantages of this sensor with a curved surface, over conventional flat sensor? Short answer is, the smaller optics would be needed to build a very compact camera module.

To an extent, by using such an image sensor with curved surface, ultimately smaller lens design can be used as well as it will eliminate the need to correct for curvature of field. As shown in the patent diagram, the lens only has a three-element structure. Whereas the iPhone 6S currently uses a five-element lens. If go with the illustrations, a simplistic spherical lens would naturally focus the image onto a curved surface.

You can learn more about the technology here with Sony’s Curved Image Sensor.

apple-spherical-sensor

Well, there is also the downside of this design which is barrel distortion. Its strength of this flaw also varies with focal length, aperture and a few other parameters. To correct it, Apple proposes a software algorithm as reported by Apple Insider.

Will we see this in the upcoming (rumored) iPhone 7 with dual-camera? This question is also valid as Apple doesn’t seem to add additional space into the iPhone and make it fat but they sure would make room and adjust smaller components into their future iPhone devices. This kind of sensor with simpler lens design indeed will need less space and would fit into the device as well as the rumor about dual-camera also seems to be true after this update. However the question about seeing this kind of camera sensor in the very next iPhone can not exactly be answered as Apple but may be in future sometime – May Be.

What do you think of this news? Do share your thoughts.