small, precise, smart… in motion

Subscribe to our newsletter

Privacy by SafeSubscribe View the archive ›

New Scale awarded U.S. patent for UTAF™ piezoelectric motor being commercialized in next-generation smart phone cameras

Victor, NY - Nov. 18, 2010 – New Scale Technologies has received its fifth U.S. patent for miniature piezoelectric motor technology. Trade-named the UTAF™ motor (for Ultra-Thin Auto Focus, its target application), the tiny new device integrates all ultrasonic motor functions into a single piezoelectric ceramic beam measuring only 4.5 X 0.82 X 0.7 mm.

U.S. patent # 7,786,648 was issued Aug. 31, 2010 to inventors Qin Xu and David Henderson by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Technology and licensing

Piezoelectric ceramics vibrate in response to electrical signals; ultrasonic motors translate those micrometer-scale vibrations into larger motion through friction contact. The UTAF motor uses an innovative co-fired multi-layer ceramic process to create a single beam composed of many thin layers of piezo ceramic. Sub-segments of the monolithic beam are energized independently, causing the beam to vibrate simultaneously in two orthogonal directions as its motion mechanism. Frequency, phase and amplitude of the ultrasonic vibrations are controlled by a two-phase drive circuit. Because the layers are very thin, they respond to signals of only 3 volts or less. This is a significant advantage in smart phone camera applications, as it allows the UTAF motor to operate directly from the phone battery.

New Scale has licensed its UTAF motor patent to TDK-EPC (EPCOS), a world leader in manufacturing advanced multi-layer piezoelectric ceramics. "The UTAF motor combines the motor design innovation of New Scale Technologies with the world-class manufacturing capabilities of EPCOS," stated David Henderson, New Scale's founder and co-CEO. "Together we have created a truly unique solution for adding high-performance auto focus to smart phone cameras."

UTAF motor enables ultra-thin auto focus cameras

The UTAF motor is combined with several other patent-pending innovations to deliver a complete ultra-thin auto focus actuator module for next-generation ultra-thin mobile phones with image sensors better than 8 MP. These innovations include advanced drive electronics incorporated into New Scale's NSD-2101 driver IC, a compact lens module design with a high-efficiency pin-bushing guide, and "Smart Step" control software that optimizes speed and accuracy while minimizing acoustic noise. The UTAF Ultra-Thin Auto Focus module enables continuous auto focus for video capture, as well as faster focus more rapid picture taking. The complete UTAF actuator module measures less than 4 x 8.5 x 8.5 mm.

"Each year more than 1 billion cameras are purchased by consumers in mobile phones. The fastest-growing segment is smart phones, where the camera is expected to replace stand-alone digital still cameras," said Henderson. "The patented UTAF motor and the integrated UTAF actuator module meet the most demanding smart phone camera requirements for speed, image sharpness, video quality, and battery life. We're excited to be part of this major market opportunity."

For more information

Request a copy of the technical paper, "Continuous Auto Focus for Next Generation Phone Cameras," describing the operation of the UTAF motor and the integrated UTAF actuator module. Email New Scale or call +1 (585) 924-4450 x2.

About New Scale Technologies

New Scale Technologies develops small, precise and smart motion systems for critical adjustments of optics in imaging devices and many other micro positioning applications. Our simple and elegant solutions deliver best-in-class performance in consumer imaging, biometric authentication, surveillance, medical devices, scientific instruments, haptic systems and many other markets. We design and manufacture custom products and license our technology to manufacturers worldwide. Our customers benefit from complete motion solutions that are tailored to their unique requirements and easily integrated into their next-generation instruments.

SQUIGGLE is a registered trademark, and New Scale Pathway and UTAF are trademarks of New Scale Technologies, Inc.

Please note: Press releases are current as published, but are not updated after posting. Refer to our main pages for current information including specifications.