Pelican Imaging is a company based in Mountain View, California. The company has been researching “array cameras” since 2006, with a special focus on the mobile market.
Instead of a microlens array which is positioned in front a single imaging sensor, Pelican’s solution consists of an array of small individual cameras to capture the light field. Two of the most important advantages of this method: the light field modules can be extremely thin, and cheap in production.
In February 2013, after 6 years of research, the company presented their first product: a tiny module featuring 4 x 4 individual fixed-focus cameras. At 3 mm height and a production cost of about 20 US$, the module seems perfect for current smartphones (which currently feature camera modules at around 6 mm height). The Array Camera records 16 images of 16.75 Megapixels each, which are then merged into an 8 Megapixel JPEG image with embedded depth map. Light field video is recorded in Full-HD (1080p, 30fps). The prototypes presented were running off a Snapdragon 800 processor.
Use cases imagined by Pelican include software refocus, extended/selective depth of field, intelligent image manipulation (e.g. foreground/background extraction) and gesture control of computers or phones.
In June 2013, Pelican showcased another set of uses for their light field technology: 3D Video recording, distance measurement and 3D modelling/printing.
Pelican Imaging’s Array Camera is to be licensed to manufacturers, including recent investor Nokia. A future Lumia generation with computational imaging technology has already been confirmed. Pelican-powered products are expected to be released in “early 2014″.
For more information on Pelican’s prototypes and products, be sure to check out our news articles tagged Pelican Imaging.