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Toshiba to Bring Lytro-like Photography to Future Smartphones

January 7, 2014 - Written By Tom Dawson

 

For some time now, we’ve been hearing about technology that allows us to refoucs an image “after the fact” or, once we’ve taken the photo. In other words, we can take blurry parts of a photo and make them pin-sharp. All of this is done through a combination of new hardware and clever software. Toshiba is making news this week at CES 2014 saying that they’ll soon be ready to bring the technology to the smartphones of the near future. This isn’t the first time that we’ve seen such things, as we had 3D cameras debut on such devices such as HTC’s EVO 3D and LG’s Optimus 3D but, this sort of thing seems to have a more practical use day-to-day.

Toshiba has announced a new camera module, dubbed the TCM9518MD which features two 5-megapixel camera modules as well as a new type of chip that captures both regular image data as well as depth and more. It’s this that lead to the ability to “refoucs” a shot after the fact. In practice, this would you allow you to focus on someone’s face when taking a shot, leaving the background somewhat blurred. However, using such a camera couple with the right software you’d be able to make the background sharp and in focus once more, even months after you’ve taken the photo. Thanks to the information collected about depth and such.

As with so many things that grace the show floor at CES, Toshiba isn’t promising any big developments on this any time soon. Things are looking a little promising however, as the module is being sampled right now by manufacturers so, there’s a good chance that this new technology ends up in smartphones towards the end of this year and at the very least, should appear this time next year. So, in the next 12 months or so, we could be taking better pictures without a care in the world when it comes to focusing. Or at least, that’s the promise at least. We’ve already seen quite a bit this year at CES 2014, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Pro tablets and a Windows/Android Hybrid from ASUS.