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Light to partner with Sony, others to improve phone cameras

Sony will be the first of several companies to use Light's computational imaging technology in mobile devices.

Published onFebruary 21, 2019

Light L16 camera

Light, the company behind the visionary L16 camera, is ready to bring its imaging technology to more devices. The company today announced a new partnership with Sony that will expand the availability and power of computational photography. The company says other partnerships are on the way, too.

The L16 camera, released in 2017, was unique thanks to its array of multiple cameras scattered across the rear. Light’s algorithms allow the many sensors to work on concert in order to create high-quality results. Light thinks phones should be next to benefit from its advanced computational photography tools.

Light and Sony have agreed to combine Light’s multi-camera tech with Sony’s imaging sensors to create new “multi-camera applications” specifically for phones with four or more cameras. We’re already seeing phones with three rear cameras, such as the LG V40 ThinQ and Samsung Galaxy S10. Moving to four or more cameras seems a likely next step for phone makers.

Under the terms of the agreement, Light can work together with its own customers (which might include other phone makers) to build multi-camera reference designs using Sony sensors. Light will in effect create the underlying camera design and offer it to others. The partnership is a natural fit for both companies.

Many manufacturers across the industry already rely on Sony sensors in their phones, including Sony Mobile itself. Over the last several years, Sony has invested billions of dollars in its imaging sensor business. Last summer, Sony announced the IMX586, a 48MP for phones. Samsung is Sony’s main rival at the moment. This new partnership with Light could benefit Sony as more phone makers move to differentiate their devices via advanced camera features.

Light says it has the only mobile chipset in the world that can capture images with six cameras at once. It already has partnerships in place with lens component makers and system-on-a-chip manufacturers. Toss in its computational image processing software, camera array calibration, multi-camera synchronization, and now its access to Sony’s imaging sensors, and Light has stirred up a recipe for success.

Light implied that it has other partnerships in the works and that more may be made public during the Mobile World Congress trade show, which takes place in Barcelona next week.