Within the next year Toshiba is planning to bring a technology to mobile devices that will actually refocus your shots after the fact. The impressive new module will house a total of 500,000 tiny lenses in order to get this done. The unit, while just 1 cm thick will take a bunch of slightly different images in a layered format and then using Toshiba software, actually weave together a complete photo without any blur. The best point of reference is that it’s a lot like the way 3D images are captured, shifting between close and distant detail. And fear not videophiles, they also claim that this camera will also be able to capture video with a similar degree of focus management .
If this all sounds familiar it’s because just last year a company called Lytro introduced a similar technology and released a stand alone camera that boasted the same capabilities. Lytro’s shooter was the first consumer light field camera and sported a 8x zoom lens with an 11-mega-ray light-field in order to capture infinite focus. Lytro’s offering however does not offer video capturing and even though they are working on it, Toshiba seems to be ahead in this respect.
Toshiba will be working more on the software side of continuous focus than Lytro but if they can get the same results then it’s great news. Most of us have suffered with bad to horrible cameras on our phones in order to take advantage of the other top of the line bells and whistles that the device has to offer. Often it seems as though manufacturers just slapped any shooter with whatever sensor they liked on a handset just to say it has a functioning camera, so it’s nice to see a company like Toshiba trying to innovate in the mobile space. Currently they plan on releasing the sensor in late 2013 and are looking to make partnerships with device makers.
I’m sure that a technology like this will come at a premium so I’ll ask the peanut gallery what you guys think. Would you pay extra for a phone or tablet that included this Toshiba lense which promises extra focus? Or are the pictures you are currently taking good enough?