Xiaomi smartphone integrates liquid lens

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Nextlens' liquid lenses

Mobile phone firm Xiaomi has released a smartphone with a camera containing a liquid lens.

The new generation of the Xiaomi Mix uses a liquid lens from Swiss firm Nextlens, sister company to Optotune, which makes liquid lenses for industrial use.

Liquid lenses shift the focus position by changing the shape of optical fluids inside a flexible membrane when voltage is applied to the lens. Traditional cameras move rigid lenses back and forth.

The technology is used in industrial cameras, supplied by companies like Optotune and Corning, and also some high-end DSLR cameras, but this is the first mobile phone to incorporate a liquid lens.

Nextlens said the camera system has focusing speeds measured in thousands of a second, and close focusing up to 3cm. The macro functionality is able to resolve very small detail, allowing users to count the eyes of insects. 

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