Have you ever wanted to have the functionality of a Lytro Light Field Camera on your mobile device? Well, if you have, then you will be pleased to know that at least one company is working on making it a reality. According to the Asahi Shimbun, Toshiba is working on an image sensor for smartphones and tablets that will allow users to refocus on images that have been already shot.
While the Lytro camera was a big device utilizing a sensor capable of providing the same functionality, in a smartphone, this would be a real breakthrough. The module for such a camera that Toshiba is said to be working on is in the shape of a cube which measures 10mm. The small size makes it suitable for handheld devices.
While the module is 10mm, the image sensor itself is 5mm x 7mm and consists of over 500,000 miniature lenses. Each of these half a million miniature lenses capture a slightly different photo and all of these photos are combined at the end. This allows the image to be refocused after it has been taken using special software.
Right now, Toshiba is looking for smartphone and tablet manufacturers to integrate its new lens into their future devices. The company hopes to commercialize its new lens by the end of 2013.
While we are not sure whether this new kind of lens will be a success when used in smartphones, it is certainly a nice feature which should be included in today’s devices, which are increasingly replacing digital cameras. Perhaps one day we will see a Galaxy smartphone or a Nexus tablet with this new kind of lens and be able to refocus images taken from our Android devices on the fly.