Figure above: When electricity is applied the optical element gets a shape.
Liquid lenses have a series of advantages over traditional lenses. Beside not having moving parts (and thus less mechanical parts), they respond quicker to electrical signals, they do not have a motor (you thought that USM was the big thing? Think again) and they are naturally much more silent. The lack of a motor also means such a lens needs less electrical power, hence the battery lasts longer. Liquid lenses are most likely going to be employed in compact cameras and/or smartphones. If you want a more scientific description about what liquid lenses are and do, I recommend this article.
It is not the first time Canon files a patent for a liquid lens (and yes, I shamelessly recycled some of the text of my previous post :-) ).
Patent description (machine translated):
- Patent Publication No. 2013-101227
- Publication date 2013.5.23
- Filing date 2011.11.9
- Canon patent
- I drive a plurality of pumps
- Drive pump liquid optical element to hold the end of the interface
- When applied to the electrodes, electrowetting phenomenon in which the liquid moves to the interface from the drive pump occurs
- Optical properties are changed by the movement of the liquid
- By discretely and independently controlled and a voltage, enabling high-speed drive