Innovation · March 21, 2023

Photography with magnetic precision using your phone

While going through new patents from last week, this one caught my attention:

Filed by two inventors from Idaho, the patent talks about a clever way to mount an external lens to a mobile phone.

The patent drawing below should make it clear that it’s something aimed for more-than-casual outdoor photography using your mobile phone.

Patent drawing showing an external lens attached to the back of a mobile phone's cover
Drawing from US Patent No. 11,601,577

While the external lens kits for mobile phones have been around for years, the hassle of aligning them with the phone’s camera has kept such accessories from becoming commonplace.

That is the problem this patent targets.

The patent’s mounting system uses magnets and alignment screws to achieve perfect alignment of your phone’s camera with the external lens.

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This is how the mounting part looks like in the patent’s drawings:

Patent drawing showing the mounting system for the external lens and how it fits on the phone's cover
Drawing from US Patent No. 11,601,577

An interesting thing to note is that the patent number ends with “B1” which means its pre-grant publication was suppressed. Patent owners usually do this when they want to hide their patent from competitors before its approval. It’s likely that the inventors are actively trying to bring their invention to the market.

Such advancements are going to eat a big chunk out of the digital camera market.

I can see a generation of photography enthusiasts, who would otherwise have purchased a DSLR, going for such gear that allows them to take better photos with their smartphone – which already has an excellent camera.