Camera modules contain actuators to enhance image quality by moving optical components with a high level of precision. CML has designed, developed and licensed actuators to provide Autofocus (AF) and Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) to a range of top tier manufacturers. Tens of millions of end devices have shipped with CML technology inside.
AF ensures the subject of the image is sharp. Almost all modern smartphones have at least one AF actuator. OIS is used to counteract shake a camera experiences whilst capturing images and is used mainly in premium handsets. See the effect of OIS to remove shake-induced blur in the graphic below.
As camera resolution continues to improve, image sensors increase in size making the lenses larger and heavier. Conventional actuators struggle to move them, but CML's SMA actuators provide ten times the force and are well-suited to address this trend. These actuators do not cause magnetic interference, allowing the close arrangement of additional camera modules as well as antenna and audio components. This enables high packing density, minimising bezels and maximising battery capacity.
Haptics refers to the use of tactile feedback to enhance the user experience in digital and virtual environments. This technology is becoming increasingly popular in wide variety of industries, including handsets, gaming, healthcare, and automotive. Haptic technology can be used to create realistic sensations of touch, such as pressure, vibration, and texture, which can enhance the immersive experience of users.
For example, in gaming, haptic feedback can be used to simulate the sensation of driving a car or firing a gun. In healthcare, haptic technology can be used to create realistic training simulations for medical professionals. CML has designed an SMA haptic actuator capable of producing high force movement in a miniature form factor, providing a range of realistic and satisfying localised tactile sensations. The ability to control the movement of SMA wires and generate precise waveforms allows the feel of the button to be varied according to user preferences and applications, with the industry often referring to these products as solid-state buttons or controls.
SMA haptic technology boasts minimal energy consumption compared to competing solutions and runs on a low drive voltage for a solution that is simple and easy to integrate. CML has licensed this technology to a manufacturing partner.
Fluidics is a field of engineering that deals with the precision control and manipulation of liquids and gases. This technology has applications in various industries, including medical devices, life sciences, and aerospace. For example, microfluidics technology can be used to create lab-on-a-chip devices that are used for drug discovery and point of care (PoC) testers.
Cambridge Mechatronics’ use of SMA is ideally suited as a miniature actuator for fluidic devices and to create advanced products, such as drug delivery devices. The combination of fluidics and CML’s SMA technology has the potential to revolutionise major industries and improve the performance and efficiency of many products. In 2022, CML announced a strategic collaboration and first product release with leading pump and valve manufacture Fluid-o-Tech, launching the Precision Flow 10 proportionally controlled SMA microvalve.
XR, or extended reality, encapsulates all of augmented (AR), virtual (VR), and mixed reality (MR). Each of these technologies either combines the physical world with a digital twin, or creates a virtual equivalent. The hardware devices are the portal to engage with this world and typically includes display systems to show users the digital world content, as well as several sensing systems such as cameras to enable seamless interaction with the real world.
CML's shape memory alloy actuator technology can be used for a variety of applications in XR hardware. The technology advantages of SMA align to the requirements of the devices, including being compact, lightweight, precise, and non-magnetic. In particular CML are developing an exciting new zero-hold power technology. This technology enables focus adjustment for minimal power and has a myriad of applications. It can be used for varifocal displays in VR headsets, Athermalisation in AR devices, and autofocus in cameras amongst others.
CML has spoken at key industry events including SPIE about applications of its actuators to XR and is available to discuss customer requirements to develop bespoke solutions for a wide variety of XR applications.
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