For many years, the owners of current iPhones have been bothered by the small hump on the back of their smartphones. With the help of new technology, however, this could soon disappear in the simultaneous quest for ever-thinner devices.
iPhone of the future: Flat backs without annoying humps
Those who carry their iPhone or iPad around in a protective case or smart cover rarely worry about the small hump on the back of the smartphone or tablet after unpacking it for the first time. However, owners who use an iPhone without such protection, for example because they like to display the colorful iPhone XR case, often see it differently.
The small more or less bulky hump on the back, which houses the necessary technology and optics for the camera system, quickly becomes a permanent nuisance for some. In a recent patent application (via AppleInsider and Patently Apple) Apple’s engineers now describe how to make the construction of the camera module thinner and lighter while improving the performance of the camera.
The patent documents that some components in current camera systems may become superfluous in the future. Specifically, components are mentioned that are currently used to “position an optical element”. This omission could make the camera thinner and lighter. This, in turn, could lead to the camera hump also becoming thinner in the future and possibly disappearing completely again.
Thinner camera modules: Apple could make the cameras slimmer like this
Apple describes that current mobile devices are now so thin that the electrical signals inside the components can cause interference. To minimize this, engineers have to leave valuable space between components. A reduction in this “waste of space” could be achieved in the future by using optical signals instead of electrical ones, for example with the aid of lasers in so-called surface emitters (VCSEL for short, “Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser”).
At the same time, this has the desirable side effect that the transfer rates between the components can be higher when using these surface emitters. The patent refers to one gigabyte per second or more. These transfer rates would particularly benefit high-resolution video recordings.
The complete description can be found in Apple’s current patent application. The iPhone manufacturer’s team repeatedly submits such applications; however, it cannot be said if and when the technologies described will be used in real products.