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Toshiba reveals Lytro-like image sensor for smartphones

Toshiba reveals Lytro-like image sensor for smartphones

Toshiba has revealed its next-generation image sensor for smartphones, which is based on a Lytro-like technology allowing users to refocus their photos after taking them.

The battle for the best image sensor for smartphones is not over yet and, most likely, it will never be over.

Toshiba's Lytro-like image sensor for smartphones will enter mass-production by the end of the year.
Toshiba’s Lytro-like image sensor will give smartphone users the ability to refocus images after taking them.

Competition is fierce in the mobile industry

Rambus unveiled its new image sensor that will improve photography in low-light conditions by capturing light’s full dynamic range at the MWC 2013 event.

One by one, Panasonic, Aptina, and a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have demonstrated their image sensors aimed at next-gen mobile devices.

Toshiba is the latest company to reveal its plans for tiny sensors in smartphones. The company has demoed its Lytro-like chipset, which will be able to capture light-field photography.

Toshiba’s Lytro-like image sensor will allow smartphone users to refocus photos after taking them

Lytro cameras are already available on the market. However, not a single mobile device can offer such technology for the moment.

Toshiba has confirmed that it will start mass-producing the new image modules by the end of 2013, while smartphones with Lytro-like cameras will become available on the market as of mid-2014.

The company’s new camera module will give smartphone users the possibility to capture Lytro-like images, meaning that depth is calculated with pin-point precision and the focus point can be chosen after the photo is taken.

Toshiba said that users will be able to refocus their shots, thus being allowed to remove unwanted objects or people from the main image.

Thanks to Toshiba's new Lytro-like image sensor, smartphone users will be able to refocus photos after taking them
Smartphone users will be able to choose the point of focus after taking an image.

Image quality is reduced, but it will get better in time

The sensor measures 8 megapixels, but it can take photos at a quality of 2 megapixels. The reason for that is because the microlenses found in the sensor disperse light across more pixels, in order to capture more details about depth and distance.

The image sensors are based on CMOS technology and they can record videos at 30 frames per second. Toshiba promises that it will soon reveal a 13-megapixel version, which will be able to capture photos at up to 6-megapixel quality.

Toshiba researcher, Hideyuki Funaki, believes that smartphones already have more megapixels than most phoneographers need, therefore the next step is to provide something “different” for them.

Taking photos with a mobile device is different because users will find themselves in crowded places, so manually choosing a focus point will become a must-have feature for them.

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Toshiba reveals Lytro-like image sensor for smartphones