Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple for adapters for connecting phones or other electronic devices to camera stabilizers, where the adapters are highly portable. and are useful in a number of situations and environments. If Apple releases such an accessory product in the future, it will directly compete with products like JOBY. It’s unclear whether Apple will license their patented design or compete directly.
Apple notes that in many circumstances iPhone cameras can be used for very long periods of time. They can also be used in power-hungry applications such as video recording. As such, it may also be desirable for an iPhone to be able to be charged while the phones are connected to the adapters. Since these adapters can be used in a variety of environments, it may also be desirable for phone cameras to be easily placed in various orientations or positions to provide flexibility to the user.
Apple’s invention can provide adapters that can attach iPhones or other electronic devices to camera stabilizers, where adapters are highly portable and useful in a number of situations and environments.
An illustrative embodiment of the present invention may provide an adapter having a side base portion having an opening. The opening can be used to attach the adapter to a camera stabilizer such as a tripod, gimbal, jetty, drone or other device.
The adapter may further have a vertical portion, wherein the vertical portion may include a contact surface for physically contacting an iPhone. The contact surface can have a high friction or high friction surface to increase the friction between the adapter and the phone. This can increase the shearing force needed to pull the phone out of the adapter.
The vertical part and the base part can be connected by a fixed right angle. The vertical part and the base part can alternatively be connected by a hinge. This may allow the upright part to be folded closed, i.e. next to the base part for a more compact arrangement, or opened at an angle, such as a right angle. This can allow the adapter to fit more adroitly into a user’s probably already cluttered bag or backpack.
The vertical part can further comprise an enclosure forming a ring around the contact surface, as well as sides and a back of the vertical part. The housing may house or support an attachment feature for attaching an iPhone or other electronic device to the adapter.
The attachment element can be a magnet, a plurality of magnets, or a first array of magnets. JThe attachment element, such as a first array of magnets, can magnetically attract a second attachment element, such as a second array of magnets, in a telephone or other electronic device.
The first array of magnets may be positioned behind the ring around the contact surface or elsewhere in the enclosure. The first array of magnets can be fixed in place in the enclosure. Alternatively, when the phone or other electronic device is near the adapter, the first array of magnets can move inside the enclosure toward the contact surface to increase the magnetic attraction between the phone and the adapter. This may increase a normal force needed to remove the phone from the adapter.
The first array of magnets can have a shape and an arrangement such that the telephone (and its camera) can rotate freely around an axis of connection with the adapter. This can help level and position the camera in portrait or landscape mode, as well as any angle in between.
The adapter may further include additional magnets separate from the first array of magnets to improve alignment of the phone to the adapter at a specific position, such as portrait, landscape or other orientation.
The magnetic attachment between the electronic device and the adapter can provide a quick and easy way to attach a phone or other electronic device to a camera stabilizer.
The enclosure may further include load components such as an inductive coil to supply an inductive load and to transmit data to the iPhone and to receive data from the iPhone.
The enclosure may further include shielding to magnetically isolate the inductive coil from the first array of magnets. This isolation can improve the inductive coupling of the inductive coil to a corresponding coil of an iPhone or electronic device receiving power. Control electronics that receive input power and generate alternating currents through the inductive coil may also be included in the housing. These alternating currents can generate a time-varying magnetic flux in the corresponding coil. The time-varying magnetic flux can generate currents in the corresponding coil that can be used to charge a battery in the phone.
The time-varying magnetic flux can be modulated to transmit data to the phone. The control electronics can also detect currents induced in the coil of the adapter by the telephone or other electronic device. The control circuit can further read the data transmitted by the telephone using these induced currents. The data may include device identification for the phone, charging status, charge level requests, and other information.
Apple’s patent FIG. 1 below illustrates an adapter for a camera stabilizer according to one embodiment of the present invention; FIG. 2 illustrates an adapter for a camera stabilizer; FIG. 3 illustrates the back of the adapter of FIG. 2; FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B illustrate an adapter for a camera stabilizer with Lightning ports.
In fig. 1 above, the #100 adapter can be used to attach the #180 electronic device to the #190 camera stabilizer. In this particular example, the electronic device may be an iPhone, although the electronic device may instead be a tablet, portable computing device, camera (such as an SLR or a camera colloquially referred to as a compact camera) , or other electronic or mechanical device.
The electronic device may include one or more lenses, flash units, light detection and ranging (LiDAR) scanners, or other components. The camera stabilizer is shown in the form of a tripod, although the camera stabilizer 190 could instead be a gimbal, pier, drone or other camera stabilizer or other control or positioning device.
In these and other embodiments of the present invention, the adapter may be a passive adapter for mechanically attaching an electronic device to the camera stabilizer.
In these and other embodiments, the present invention, the adapter may instead be a powered adapter. When the adapter is a powered adapter, the adapter may include a connector receptacle 450 (shown in Figure 4 such as a Lightning port) or a cable (not shown). A power converter (not shown) may further be included in the adapter. or can be separated from the adapter and attached to the camera stabilizer or elsewhere.
For details, see Apple’s patent application number 20220042643. This is the third magnet-based patent issued today. The first two patents covering the use of magnets were covered in our report titled “Apple patent filing for magnetic mounting device on car air vent may already be marketed by Belkin, and more. In fact, the three patents have some overlapping patent numbers.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of bringing such a product to market is unknown at this time.