BlackBerry Patents 'Conversion Lens' Camera For Smartphones

In a new patent granted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), BlackBerry invented a new camera design. The patent, originally applied for in 2016, outlines a new style of camera, presumably for smartphones, that operates with a second and alternating lens. This particular style of camera modification is called a conversion lens. In order to function as intended, the new camera design must be housed in a sliding host-device. Specifically, the sensor would reside in the rear of a screen display panel, and the auxiliary panel would bear a second translucent lens that modifies the first camera. In theory, the optical lenses would be aligned for fisheye, wide angle, or telephoto images and then the main lens would be used for normal shots and videos.

Blackberry’s new conversion lens patent requires a sliding mechanism in order to facilitate its variety in optical image capturing. The patent sketches an unnamed BlackBerry device that looks remarkably close to the Priv flagship, but the Canadian tech company could theoretically launch the new camera on any number of new devices. BlackBerry phones have boasted sliding panel elements for years, so using the staple construction attributes to create a unique hardware advantage may prove profitable. Last year, BlackBerry’s KEYone device featured the company’s famous physical keyboard, but it was non-retractable. As Chinese tech company TCL now owns BlackBerry, the return of the sliding keyboard may mark a fundamental return to the basics for new devices.

In recent years, BlackBerry has struggled, especially with sales. It’s smartphones with unique hardware and software hasn’t convinced a large majority of consumers to make the switch. Originally intended for businessmen and businesswomen, BlackBerry devices tend to offer a similar experience as competing phones. In 2017, many smartphones began to launch with dual camera lenses for an increased variety in photography options. Other companies began to use software to achieve quality photos and videos without necessitating a separate lens on the rear of the device. The newly-patented design for future BlackBerry cameras may bring back to popularity the hardware advantages of optical image quality, versus digital image enhancements by companies like Google, OnePlus, and Apple.

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