TLens® for Smartphones

There are few industry segments that are more competitive than the smartphone market. The market is not just competitive but it is also driven by technology speed and innovation. Most Smartphone OEMs have to balance cost, time to market (TTM) with product differentiation and innovation. The poLight technology offers a unique possibility to create innovation around one of the most critical features of a mobile phone, the camera functionality.  

TLens® in front facing camera

Some examples of unique use cases that the Tlens technology can bring. One is the now more or less classical selfie case where the user would like to take an image with focus on all persons and the background, in this case the ultra quick TLens® takes 3 images with different focus. These images are stitched together into one “All in Focus ” image, see illustration below. polight-use-case-single-front

TLens® in back camera – “All in Focus”

Another use case is when the user would like to create an image with the traditional back camera and getting everything “in Focus”. The picture below illustrates such a case. The technology is the same, three or four images are created within a very short time and these images are stiched together into one image with everything in focus. polight-use-case-single-front Above illustrates one of several unique use cases that can be created by use of the TLens technology. There are several alternatives for the Smartphone OEMs to implement utilize the unque capabilites of the poLight products. These alterntives spans from adding a TLens on top of a fixed camera modula all the way to extensive design and application changes. poLight will here be a partner to support you in your design activities.

TLens® vs VCM in Smartphones

The video below illustrates the difference between the two technologies. On the left hand side, the advantages of the TLens® can be cleary seen, extremely quick focus and no “Field of View ” variation. The phone used is a mid-tier phone with the TLens® mounted on a fixed focus camera and with a contrast based auto-focus algorithm.

The right hand video shows a high-end smartphone with a VCM including PDAF. Please notice the significant lower speed and the some times inability to focus at all, as well as the “pumping effect” due to the use of VCM technology.

The video clearly illustrates the paramount advantages the new TLens® teachnology can bring to the camera experience in a smartphone.

TLens® for dual/multi camera implementation

What can the poLight technology bring to a multi camera device? The poLight technology and the first product launched, the TLens® Silver, is based on a polymer lens that can be tuned by a piezo element. The TLens® Silver provide extremely quick Focus functionality without the drawbacks of the VCM technology and the traditional VCM modules can simply be removed. The TLens® technology provides a range of capabilities such as extremely quick Auto Focus but also some unique capabilities in a multi-camera implementation:

  • Constant field of view (FoV). This simplifies image alignment, stitching, bracketing in a multi-image/multi camera use-case, i.e. several images are stitched into one with e.g. all objects in focus (All in Focus). This removed the traditional pumping (image size variation when focusing) effect that all VCMs show (which make image and video not nice to watch, could generate seasickness while focusing) and minimize the processing power needed for image combination etc.
  • Low power consumption. This capability is key since the consumers are using the camera more and more. The TLens® Silver has a power consumption less than 5mW, a magnitude less than VCMs. This is especially important in a multi camera implementation where energy efficiency will be critical. Two TLenses will consume less than 10mW while two VCM modules easily consume up to 400mW or more!
  • No magnetic interference. Since the TLens® Silver has no coils or springs, the magnetic interference is negligible and two cameras Auto Focus cameras can be close to each other without interference. This provides an enormous design freedom for the OEMs and interference with other coils and RF parts can be minimized.
  • Stable optical axis. The TLens® technology provide superior image quality since the optical axis will not be changed by a changing focus, gravity (orientation of the phone) or any shock generate by unfortunate but highly probable drop during the live time of the phone. This is unique for the TLens® technology and cannot be replicated by traditional VCMs.
  • Low “real estate”. The TLens® technology is extremely compact and will not increase the width of the optical package since no coils/motors will be placed around the lens stack. This means that the actual size of the camera modules can become smaller with the exception of some tenths of mm addition in height (since the TLens® will be on top of the lens package) if the TLens® is added on the top of a fixed camera. The height increase may be removed if the TLens® is fully integrated into the CM. The typical footprint of two TLens® equipped camera modules will be half of two camera modules with VCMs.
  • Simplified testing and calibration. Dual cameras has to be calibrated and this cannot be performed well with VCM cameras since the parameters are changing. However, a dual camera solution with the TLens® will be easy to calibrate and optimize.

The listed unique capabilities are not only applicable for dual camera cases but several of them removes the main drawbacks with dual camera technologies and allow OEMs to fully utilize the advantages. The two main drawbacks with dual or multiple camera configurations can be eliminated by use of the TLens® by:

  • The image quality problem can be removed by the Constant FoV, the stable optical axis as well as the elimination of the magnetic interference and as well as the influence of the gravity.
  • The power consumption problem can be removed by the intrinsic low power consumption of the TLens® as well as the reduction of processing power needed due to constant FoV and stable optical axis.