Apple invents iPhone camera lens actuator made of artificial muscle

“The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published an Apple patent application for a method of constructing a camera lens actuator that uses a single artificial muscle structure rather than traditional motors to control focus and aperture size,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider.

“According to Apple’s aptly named ‘Artificial muscle camera lens actuator’ filing, suggestions to apply artificial muscle technology to camera autofocus actuators have been floating around for some time, but the electro-active polymer (EAP) materials on which the tech is based were not suitable for mass manufacture until recently,” Campbell reports. “With the proliferation of haptic feedback features in devices like remotes for video game consoles, the appropriate engineering cogs are in place to mass produce the materials, though an exact production design tailored for camera autofocus actuators has yet to be vetted.”

Campbell reports, “Apple notes an artificial muscle structure is advantageous because it can carry relatively large optics and consumes extremely low levels of power. Whether Apple will apply the technology to a future iOS device remains unclear. As portables like the iPhone become increasingly thin with each successive generation, however, the company may soon find a need to look in the direction of alternative solutions to the rather bulky voice coil motor used in current models.”

Much more, including Apple’s patent filing illustrations, in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Mikey Campbell” for the heads up.]


  1. Going this rout, would require additional circuitry, because it would need to be calibrated. I mean, each muscle would be slightly different in motility, precision and power requirements.

    It would be cool, if they could make a bendable lens and iris too, actually creating an “eye” like camera.

    1. Presumably, this electro-active polymer (EAP) already has a consistent contraction to voltage ratio. But inquiring minds want to know more. Here is the Abstract from the patent:

      An artificial muscle structure has an electro-active polymer (EAP) layer having a frusto-conical shape and whose tip has an opening formed therein for use as a camera variable aperture. First, second and third electrode segments are formed on a rear face of the EAP layer. The second segment is positioned in a gap between the first and third segments so as to be electrically isolated from the first and third segments. The second segment has an opening formed therein that is aligned with the opening in the EAP layer. A complementary electrode is formed on a front face of the EAP layer. Other embodiments are also described.

      The image for the patent is helpful. It’s URL is nasty, so take a look by clicking HERE

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