Shape memory alloy optical image stabiiser debuts in smartphone

January 13, 2015 // By Jean-Pierre Joosting
Taiwanese smartphone brand InFocus has launched its latest handset, marking the debut of SMA OIS actuators developed by Cambridge Mechatronics (CML) to the consumer marketplace. This follows over three years of development at Cambridge Mechatronics facilities, resulting in over 20 patents covering the design of smart metal micro actuators, precision control algorithms and drive electronics.

Taiwanese smartphone brand InFocus has launched its latest handset, marking the debut of SMA OIS actuators developed by Cambridge Mechatronics (CML) to the consumer marketplace. This follows over three years of development at Cambridge Mechatronics facilities, resulting in over 20 patents covering the design of smart metal micro actuators, precision control algorithms and drive electronics.

OIS (optical image stabilisation) actuators from CML are actuated using a proprietary smart metal technology. Force and motion are created by shape memory alloy (SMA) wire — a smart material that provides huge force and strain when heated with an electric current. The company's competition comes from classical voice coil motor (VCM) technology that uses long lengths of copper wire and a series of magnets in order to actuate its components. The number, size and complexity of parts used in VCM OIS products are significantly greater than smart metal actuators from CML. The company is able to make smaller and lower cost products than VCM manufacturers.

The SMA OIS actuator is assembled into a standard camera using the same processes and manufacturing tolerance requirements of established production lines. This ensures that no significant investment in equipment or process development is required by the module integrator.

The SMA OIS actuator is attached between the image sensor and AutoFocus actuator. Module integrators can choose image sensors and AutoFocus actuators from their preferred suppliers. The motion of the OIS actuator moves the lens relative to the image sensor, counteracting any shake measured by a gyroscope and thereby stabilising the image.


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