Under-Screen Flip Camera: Xiaomi Gets the Patent

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Xiaomi, a Chinese multinational electronic company has been granted a patent for its under-screen flip camera. The company headquarters in Beijing is a major electronic company that works in the industry of Smartphone mobile apps, laptop home appliances, bags, shoes, consumer electronics. Xiaomi undoubtedly has a major consumer base in the electronic market with having developed the mobile system-on-chip capabilities after Apple, Samsung, Huawei. It released its first smartphone in 2011 and goes on to become the country’s largest smartphone company in 2014. In 2018, Xiaomi ranked fourth in the largest Smartphone manufacturing companies behind Samsung, Apple, Huawei. Nevertheless, Xiaomi has been leading in both the largest consumer market in the world, China and India. Changing from the mobile industry, it also has a large consumer base in the consumer electronic market including the smart home (IoT) product ecosystem.  It has expanded itself in various countries such as Singapore, Japan, South Korea, and Russia, thereby capturing the market of both Asia and even Europe. These expansions have led to making Xiaomi the fourth most valuable technology startup evaluating it to more than $46 billion.

xiaomi camera

[Image Source: gettyimages]

Under screen technology

Xiaomi was granted a patent for its under-screen flip camera serving the dual purpose of primary camera and selfie camera. The technology will help the phone’s camera set up to enable the camera to rotate 180 degrees so that it can serve as both a selfie and rear-facing camera. Xiaomi has been on the rise with its multiple mid-range and high-end smartphones and it continues to pursue active research and development in Smartphone technology. It comes up with multiple features for phones such as curved display and under-display camera.

Under-screen camera technology has been on the list of various companies. Nevertheless, Xiaomi has been making huge development for the rotating under-display camera module. This is obvious with the new patent granted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

The patent application was filed in February 2020 for a “Terminal Device” featuring the under-display camera. Getting the patent, Xiaomi may bring the phone within the year.

The flip camera module is placed at the back of the device and is just a part of an elaborate system of lenses that would provide excellent quality visuals. The triple camera setup has a rotatable top lens. Extensive details were provided in the documentation document and showed that a magnetic drive module may be deployed for the operation of the under-display, internally rotated camera revealed the patent documentation.

Technology

A so-called flip camera module is placed at the back of the screen, with at least one camera lens. By default, the camera is directed to the rear and is part of a larger camera system, which consists of several lenses. Looking at the image above, only the top lens of the triple camera is rotatable (shown in orange). The other two lenses remain pointed to the rear at all times.

Using a magnetic or motorized drive module and a processor it is possible to rotate the camera in the housing. Judging by the extensive documentation, a magnetic module seems to be preferable, which is cheaper to implement and also more durable (a motor can break, a magnet always works). In that case, a magnetic component will also be attached to the camera lens.

When the selfie camera is activated, the camera will be rotated internally, after which the display part around the camera module is disabled to allow sufficient ambient light to enter. In practice, one will hardly notice this, because this display part is very small – in the image above, this is the small blue square that is drawn around the camera lens. The remaining and also largest display part can be used as a viewfinder, to provide a preview of the image to be recorded.

Finally, there is talk of a laser autofocus system that can focus quickly and accurately – even in poor lighting conditions. Xiaomi has used such an AF system before, for example, the Mi 9. Regarding the type of screen, different types of displays can be used, including an LCD (Liquid Crystal Display), an OLED (Organic light-emitting diode), or a CRT display (Cathode Ray tube), as stated in the extensive documentation.

It is also remarkable that Xiaomi also shows a digital photo of the camera module under development in the patent images. Judging by the images, it is certainly not inconceivable that the company already has a prototype. The patent documentation also revealed that the front-facing camera is activated internally with the rotating rear camera. The display is adjusted to fit in with the activated camera module and provide an equally powerful shot. (Information taken from the official documentation of patent covered here- https://nl.letsgodigital.org/smartphones/xiaomi-smartphone-flip-camera/).

Author: Saransh Chaturvedi an associate at Global Patent Filing,  in case of any queries please contact/write back us at support@globalpatentfiling.com.

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