If you’re an avid iPhone photographer or Instagram devotee, you may be interested in a couple of Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) newest patents, granted Tuesday, which describe two different ways of attaching external camera lenses and modules onto your iPhone, according to CNET and AppleInsider. The U.S. Trademark and Patent Office granted Apple two patents, one a “magnetic add-on lenses with alignment ridge,” and another, a “back panel for a portable electronic device with different camera lens options.”
The first covers a magnetically attachable camera module that would fit onto an iPhone or other portable electronic device in order to extend the device’s existing imaging capabilities (read: make your phone’s camera more awesome.) The patent was filed for in 2012 and credits Jeffrey Nathan Gleason and Misha Scepanovic as its inventors.
The module would fit onto the camera using magnets that would lock it onto your iPhone (or other device) at various strategic points. An alignment features would also be incorporated within the module to allow it to align with your phone’s optical axis and sensors. Additionally, a voice coil motor would allow the module to zoom, autofocus, and resist shaking: features that are obviously limited with the iPhone’s current, on-board camera.
The other patent, for the “back panel for a portable electronic device with different camera lens options,” describes the use of removable camera lenses that would be outfitted directly into a user’s phone using a detachable back panel, CNET reports. This way, users would effectively be able to change out camera lenses for their phone, the same way they might using a professional camera. The patent was filed for in 2010 and credits Richard Tsai as the inventor.
CNET points out that several other manufacturers already currently make similar camera lenses and accessories that can attach to the iPhone and are widely available; the Olloclip Quick-Connect Lens Solution for iPhone is sold directly in Apple’s online store, for instance. Regardless, if the patents were ever to become a reality they could make it easier to take better pictures using your phone’s existing technology.