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Lytro-like smartphone camera developed by Toshiba could arrive in 2013

News by Andrew Kameka on Thursday December 27, 2012.

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Lytro is a camera known for its unique ability to refocus an image that a camera has already captured, but some may have asked why isn't there a Lytro camera for smartphones? Toshiba is working to answer that question by introducing a smartphone camera sensor that can provide post-capture focusing next year. Asashi Shinbun reports that Toshiba is developing a new camera module with 500,000 lenses layered in front of the camera sensor. The lenses capture different elements of a subject or scene and then combine to form one image. That also enables the camera software to shift focus between certain areas of the image, so a user could draw attention to someone in the foreground or background.

Smartphone cameras are already capable of focusing prior to taking a photograph, but Toshiba's sensor would make shifting the focus possible after the image has already been captured. That can come in handy when the user realizes later that there's something interesting in the photo worth highlighting or the level of focus wasn't as accurate as they had hoped. The flexibility of focus is what made Lytro such an interesting concept earlier this year, and that technology in smartphones could be an exciting way to expand on the photo capabilities of smartphones. Lytro CEO Ren Ng revealed in January that his company considered partnering with an established player in the mobile industry to deliver this kind of technology in smartphones, but it appears that Lytro may be beaten to the punch. Toshiba plans to provide similar capabilities for video taking, and hopes to work with multiple smartphone vendors to have the camera module ready for use by the end of 2013.

source: Asashi Shinbun (Japanese), via: Engadget

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Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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