Salomondrin has provided a hardware update for the BlackBerry Dakota (formerly codenamed the Magnum) claiming that it will come with a “liquid lens”, a lens technology that mimics the human eye and is without moving parts.
Here are some details about the liquid lens from PalmInfocenter (gets a bit technical):
Philips’ FluidFocus system mimics the action of the human eye using a fluid lens that alters its focal length by changing its shape. The new lens, which lends itself to high volume manufacturing, overcomes the fixed-focus disadvantages of many of today’s low-cost imaging systems.
The lens consists of two immiscible (non-mixing) fluids of different refractive index (optical properties), one an electrically conducting aqueous solution and the other an electrically non-conducting oil, contained in a short tube with transparent end caps. The internal surfaces of the tube wall and one of its end caps are coated with a hydrophobic (water-repellent) coating that causes the aqueous solution to form itself into a hemispherical mass at the opposite end of the tube, where it acts as a spherically curved lens.
The shape of the lens is adjusted by applying an electric field across the hydrophobic coating such that it becomes less hydrophobic – a process called ‘electrowetting’ that results from an electrically induced change in surface-tension. As a result of this change in surface-tension the aqueous solution begins to wet the sidewalls of the tube, altering the radius of curvature of the meniscus between the two fluids and hence the focal length of the lens. By increasing the applied electric field the surface of the initially convex lens can be made completely flat (no lens effect) or even concave. As a result it is possible to implement lenses that transition smoothly from being convergent to divergent and back again.
Sounds awesome right? The Dakota is rumored to be RIM’s first touchscreen + QWERTY keypad combination BlackBerry so it would make sense that they upgrade other hardware and features as well.
I tried to find more info about this technology as far as pixel capability (and other info) but it looks like Philips removed the FluidFocus item from their site because of a legal patent issue. If you happen to find more info about this please let me know in the comments!
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