Solid-state autofocus solutions developed by US-based LensVector have been applied in entry-level smartphones since October 2015 and, although at very small volumes currently, have considerable potential market due to advantages in durability, power consumption, thickness and production costs compared with current mainstream VCM (voice coil motor) solutions, according to Digitimes Research.
Since Apple adopted a Sony-developed on-chip PDAF (phase-detection autofocus) solution for its iPhone 6 series to reduce autofocus time to 0.3 seconds or less, other smartphone vendors have followed suit by adopting similar solutions, Digitimes Research indicated. Meanwhile, other vendors have adopted dual-lens solutions to decrease autofocus delay.
While both on-chip PDAF and dual-lens solutions work by increasing the mechanical operating efficiency of VCMs, solid-state autofocus solutions are based on differential refractive indexes of liquid crystal cells.
China-based Sunny Optical Technology has become a partner for LensVector, but Taiwan-based CMOS image sensor designers, lens module developers and smartphone vendors have not yet tried other autofocus solutions. In view of increasing competition in production costs, it is worthwhile looking into VCM alternatives such as solid-state autofocus.