Smartphone Cameras

Smartphone Cameras

Our actuators are used in smartphone cameras in three ways :

CML’s designs deliver the following advantages to the smartphone camera application:

Small and Slim

SMA actuators are less than a third of the height of competing technologies, allowing OIS and AF to be included in a miniature camera without adding unnecessary bulk. SMA actuators may be used to remove the unsightly bulge seen on the back of many smartphones.

High Force

SMA wires produce high driving forces, which combined with our patented control algorithms, give industry-leading hand-shake suppression performance and image quality even on glass or glass hybrid lenses.

Longer Battery Life

SMA actuators use only about 20% of the power of competing technologies, extending smartphone battery life and reducing heat generation.

No Magnets

Cameras using competing actuator technologies have several strong magnets that can interfere with critical handset components if placed in close proximity. SMA actuators eliminate magnetic interference and allow a compact design.

Dual Cameras

SMA is uniquely suited to use in dual cameras because the actuators can be placed close to one another, allowing optimal positioning of the camera apertures and the most compact design.  The dual camera configuration is challenging for competing technologies because of magnetic interference, which means that the lenses must be further apart.

Selfie Cameras

The selfie or front facing camera is increasingly used for taking the high-quality stills and video, previously only possible on the rear facing camera. The trend towards bezel free screen designs, means that the available space for the selfie camera is being significantly reduced. The simple, compact structure of SMA actuators is therefore emerging as the best solution for AF and OIS on the front face of a smartphone.

Auto-Focus (AF)

Autofocus is achieved by moving a lens along the camera’s optical axis in response to processing of the image by the smartphone.  For top quality images, it is important the lens moves only in the direction of the optical axis and that the axis is perfectly orthogonal to the image sensor.

CML have produced innovative and patented AF designs that have the following advantages over competing technologies:

  • Higher forces that allow the control of heavier lenses, including glass.
  • Leading tilt-free actuation.
  • A more compact design.
  • Ease of assembly at low cost.

Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS)

Optical Image Stabilisation is used to counteract the shake that results from holding a camera with a human hand.  In a smartphone, camera shake is exacerbated as the form factor has been chosen to accommodate the screen, not to facilitate photography.  OIS makes an obvious improvement to the quality of pictures, particularly in low light and therefore features in state of the art smartphone cameras.

CML's patented OIS technology has been designed with an emphasis on mechanical simplicity.  The design uses four SMA wires to counteract hand-shake in two degrees of freedom, in response to signals from the smartphone’s sensors.

The simplicity of our design allows the production of OIS actuators on automated production lines in high capacity resulting in products that are:

  • Small
  • Simple
  • Robust
  • High Performance
  • High Yield
  • High Quality
  • High Value

CML's patented control algorithms provide the unseen sophistication that all elegant designs require, and allow the camera to respond rapidly to vibrations with high precision.


Combined Auto-Focus and Optical Image Stabilisation

Our combined AF and OIS actuator is a highly disruptive technology.  Utilizing 8 SMA wires, the design allows the movement of the lens through all six spatial degrees of freedom.  This delivers an AF and OIS miniature camera at a cost comparable to current AF only cameras, which ship in almost every smartphone handset today.

In common with CML's other patented designs, our combined OIS and AF products are simple, robust and reliable and under-pinned by a highly sophisticated set of control algorithms.  Our actuators are ideally suited to high volume automated manufacturing.