Smartphone makers around the world are racing release the world’s first light field enabled smartphone. According to some reports, manufacturers such as Apple, HTC, Nokia, and also the MIT are working on further miniaturizing the technology to fit into mobile devices. Meanwhile, companies like Pelican and Toshiba are finalizing their camera designs for third-party licensing.
Now, The US Patent and Trademark has granted Apple a new patent describing a “digital camera including refocusable imaging mode adaptor”, and it comes with an interesting addition to the existing light field solutions by Lytro or Raytrix. Continue reading
At this year’s SIGGRAPH conference, currently taking place in Anaheim CA, tech blog Engadget spotted an unusual participant in the “Emerging Technologies” section. Douglas Lanman and David Luebke from the research labs at graphics processing specialist Nvidia presented what may be considered a prototype of the future of Virtual Reality: a near-eye light field display.
But what does it do?
Microlens arrays, which are mounted just in front of the high resolution displays, are used to convert pixels to individual light rays, thus creating a light field directly in front of the eye. The viewer is thus able to refocus at multiple depths into the scene.
At its current development stage, light field photography (based on microlens arrays) poses a compromise between spatial information and resolution: The more refocus or prespective a camera is required to provide, for example, the more of its sensor resolution is sacrificed. In the Lytro Light Field Camera, an 11 Megapixel sensor takes pictures that result in pictures of 1.1 Megapixels, so only about 10 % of the sensor resolution make it into the final image.
As reported previously, the MIT‘s Camera Culture group has come up with a new method to capture light fields, which is both cheaper and more effective. In a new article published by MIT News, the researchers explain what their system, named “Focii”, is capable of:
At this summer’s Siggraph — the major computer graphics conference — they’ll present a paper demonstrating that Focii can produce a full, 20-megapixel multiperspective 3-D image from a single exposure of a 20-megapixel sensor.
Today’s LightField technology uses either of two methods to record a LightField: it either reconstructs a single low-resolution LightField image (e.g. using microlens arrays or coded masks), or requires several individual pictures to be taken and combined for a high-resolution LightField (e.g. using camera gantries or coded apertures).
In a recent publication, Kshitij Marwah and colleagues introduced a new LightField camera prototype that combines the advantages of these two methods, to reconstruct higher-resolution LightFields from a single, coded image. To do so, they have co-designed the prototype camera to incorporate both of the main aspects of LightField technology: camera optics and computational processing.
Following their surprising press release at the turn of the year, Toshiba has now given some more details regarding its new tiny LightField module, which may bring Lytro-like LightField capabilities to Smartphones within a year.
The company even showed off a test unit and exciting features at its research lab in Kawasaki, Japan.
IDG News Service reports that the current version of the module, which is scheduled for production “at the end of this year or shortly after”, is a little cube that measures just 8 mm on its sides. Toshiba uses a traditional 8 Megapixel CMOS sensor to create still images with 2 Megapixels effective resolution, as well as LightField video at 30 frames per second (no word specifically about video resolution, though). A future version will use a 13 MP sensor and produce 5 to 6 MP LightField images.