In short: Samsung envisioned a front-facing quadruple-camera setup for smartphones specifically designed for infrared photography, having recently patented the technology with the Eurasian Patent Office, according to documentation reviewed by AndroidHeadlines. Two of the lenses meant to be part of the setup have positive refractive power, i.e. are converging, whereas one of them is a diverging module with negative refractive power. The fourth lens can have either refractive power type, with the patent also describing a "lens group" capable of moving between the third and fourth module for the purposes of infrared photography.
Samsung claims the technology can be implemented into smartphones, laptops, wearables, and a wide variety of other consumer electronics. The main advantage of such a solution compared to more conventional photography setups is that it works faster and is more accurate in terms of facial recognition applications, the inventor claims. Such a camera would also be able to capture light in both the visible and infrared spectrum without a separate focusing operation, according to the same documentation.
Background: While there are no guarantees the newly patented technology will ever be commercialized, Samsung has been making significant inroads on the mobile photography front over the last several years and recent reports suggest the upcoming Galaxy S10 lineup will deliver a state-of-the-art imaging solution with at least five cameras in total. The company is also understood to be experimenting with a three-dimensional camera array akin to that found on the last two generations of Apple's iPhones, though it's not willing to compromise with a display notch in order to commercialize it. Israeli startup Mantis Vision is said to have already developed a notchless depth-sensing solution that may end up being featured on the Galaxy S10 line, according to reports from earlier this year.
Impact: While Samsung may not be bringing quadruple-lens selfie cameras to the market in the near future, that's another imaging avenue the South Korean technology giant is clearly exploring, adamant to return to the very top of the mobile photography field after Huawei outperformed its products with the P20 series earlier this year. Should the firm end up commercializing such a setup, that would also likely spell the end for its use of traditional infrared sensors that have been present on its flagships since 2016 and the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7.