Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cambridge Mechatronics Presents Smart Metal OIS Lens Barrel Shift (SOS)

Cambridge Mechatronics Ltd (CML) announced that it has made working prototypes of its latest Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) and Continuous Autofocus (CAF) lens actuator design.

CML's first OIS related announcement unveiled its Smart metal OIS camera module Tilt or SOT architecture. That approach, which the company (with its partners) has developed to the point whereby it is scheduled for mass production later this year, enables the standard 8.5mm square camera footprint and is optimised for camera performance and time-to-market.

The most recent prototypes are based on an architecture called Smart metal OIS lens barrel Shift or SOS, also ensure the 8.5mm square footprint but are optimised for low camera z-height and cost. CML sees SOS entering mass production in late 2013.

The benefits of this new Barrel Shift OIS camera are:

  1. OIS functionality adds nothing to AF camera footprint – remains at 8.5mm smartphone standard. Supports M6.5 lens and 1/3.2” image sensor
  2. OIS functionality adds nothing to camera z-height. New Barrel Shift OIS actuator is 2.5mm in height which easily supports a 4mm overall camera height Camera z-height only depends on the lens choice
  3. The actuator structure is simplified and camera integration process is straightforward. This will result in a lower cost OIS camera
  4. All the above means that CML is targeting this OIS camera for mainstream smartphones

Both architectures facilitate devices that provide high quality rapid CAF allowing for point and click image capture at 13 MPixels and above. Smart metal technology also consumes significantly less power than the VCM most often found moving lenses in today's smartphone AF cameras.

CML believes that its two architectures will co-exist. SOT will always provide the best OIS performance across the whole image, as much as 4 optical stops of handshake suppression even in the corners. However it will add 0.3mm of z-height to the camera. Alternatively, SOS will add nothing to the overall z-height of the camera. This means that with the latest wide field of view lenses a camera height of 4.0mm can be achieved, almost 2.0mm lower than current smartphone cameras. At this dimension the camera will no longer be dictating the thickness of the handset. As SOS is mechanically simpler than SOT, the manufacturing cost of the camera will be lower.

CML built the SOS prototypes using parts injection moulded by one of its manufacturing licensees, Actuator Solutions GmbH (ASG). CML is currently optimizing the micro-electronic control of the SOS actuators and building fully functional SOS camera systems. ASG and Seiko Instruments Inc (SII) (another publicly announced manufacturing licensee of CML) are working with multiple major camera module makers, including Foxconn, to deliver SOT and rapid CAF cameras into mass production before the end of 2012.

VCM OIS 12 MPixel (left) v SOS 13 MPixel (right)

Thanks to DW for sending me the link!

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