It looks like liquid lenses are about to make a big splash in the cameraphone world. Varioptics and Seiko have partnered up to manufacture 500,000 continuously variable liquid-filled lenses for the mobile market, starting in Q3 of this year.
Liquid lenses offer the advantages of being able to continuously adjust focus with barely any power draw and absolutely no noise – all while reducing the footprint and cost of the auto-focusing lens module. The liquid lens technology opens up a world where cameraphones last longer, are smaller, and have built-in hardware autofocus on the cheap.
We’ll have to wait and see what kind of optical quality these liquid lenses can provide. At the current pixel density that most cameraphone image sensors use – lets say 5 megapixels – the liquid lens technology would offer near perfect surface curvature. Optical aberrations in the liquid lens occur almost at the molecular level. Optical transmittance also rivals high-end optics from the likes of Carl-Zeiss. But, as image sensors get more advanced, they require more light. That means larger lenses. And, larger liquid lenses start to become vulnerable to gravity, which distorts the perfect curvature of the lens. The hope is that future generations of this tech can overcome this limitation.
Just think. Your next cameraphone could just feature a liquid lens module made by Varioptics.
[Via: Engadget Mobile]