Liquid Lens The Key to Nokia 808 ‘s “True Zoom/Clear View?”


Writers Note: With all the rumors going around the Nokia N8’s successor the Nokia 808 will be unveiled at Mobile World Congress this year am republishing this article.  I am thinking that “Clear View” is just the phrase that Nokia is using for what they called “True Zoom” last year.

I am going to start off this post by stating that everything in this post is just my personal theory. I have no special information from Nokia so take it for what it’s worth.

As I was sitting around being a total Nokia Geek thinking about Nokia stuff I wondered what ever happened to “Nokia True Zoom”.   This was the only one of a list of things that Nokia promised to bring out this year that never came out. Which got me thinking about what this “True Zoom” could be and how it would be accomplished.

Well clearly “True Zoom” means that we should be done with digital zoom and we will be using some sort of optical zoom from now on…right?? Right!! (BTW thanks for agreeing with me so quickly.)

So this leaves only the “how do we get an optical zoom inside a phone and still keep it semi compact?” question.   This stumped me for while until I saw this article

(tweeted by bharadc23   Thanks!!)

The whole crux of the article can be summed up by this statement:

Unlike traditional glass lenses, liquid lenses don’t have any moving parts. Instead, liquid is used to focus light, and different voltages are applied to the liquid to change the shape of the liquid, thereby controlling the image.

Translation into common man terms:  The liquid lens will let you zoom in and out without and moving parts using a tiny lens. (see picture above)   If you want a total geek breakdown of this lens check out the video posted below. Done by a man much smarter than me Ben Krasnow

Liquid lens are not new,  in fact here is post by gizmag that predicts they would be in cell phone “before the end of 2005”. As far as I can tell no smartphone is currently employing this technology. Samsung got a patent on a variant of it last year but they still have yet to use it.

Here is a diagram of what they have patented.

Here is the take away from another gizmag post on the Samsung patent:

While conventional liquid lenses are useful for autofocus applications, they typically require an array of solid lenses to provide zoom capability, according to the patent documentation filed by Samsung. This type of liquid lens zoom array is smaller than a solid-lens array, but still takes up valuable space in compact mobile devices.

The Samsung design is essentially two liquid lenses stacked together, each with separate controls. Having two liquid lenses allows for one to handle autofocus duties and the other to perform the optical zooming. Each liquid lens is made up of layers of electrolytes and insulating fluid and each is controlled separately by its own electrode.

So all of this information got me wondering…..Will Nokia be the first to step up to the plate and use the Liquid Lens in their phone for “Nokia True Zoom”?

Thoughts anyone??