Japanese technology giant SoftBank and German optics company Leica jointly invested $121 million in Light, a Palo Alto, California-based startup that’s working on revolutionizing portable photography with systems featuring upwards of four lenses. The company that already promised to commercialize its technology using at least five cameras in the smartphone segment by the end of 2018 confirmed the new funding round earlier this week, stating it plans to use the Series D resources to diversify its imaging portfolio beyond handsets and other consumer applications so as to move into general industrial technologies, robotics, cybersecurity, automotive applications, and aerial photography solutions, though the exact details on the matter remain scarce.
Light used the funding announcement as yet another opportunity to once again reiterate its ambitions in the smartphone sector, stating the first handset to use its technology will be released in the coming months and “shatter the expectations of mobile photography.” The device in question is expected to run Android, the only relevant mobile operating system in the world outside of Apple’s entirely closed iOS, whereas its main imaging setup will use between five and nine cameras, as previously suggested by the startup. The actual manufacturer of the unannounced smartphone remains unclear, as does its price point, though many industry watchers already said they’re expecting a niche offering whose availability will be highly limited. The same may hold true for its appeal due to the final price of the product; even Light’s standalone handheld cameras start at nearly $2,000 and the company’s mobile platform that’s being offered to original equipment manufacturers uses the same technology.
Mobile camera setups with three and more lenses are expected to become one of the largest smartphone trends in 2019 and beyond, according to a wide variety of experts. Earlier this year, high-profile image benchmarking service provider DxOMark told AndroidHeadlines that quadruple-camera setups are just around the corner in the handset segment as well, citing industry echoes and its own expectations.