Smartphones to Get Light-Field Technology
With Lytro recently launching the first commercial light-field camera earlier in 2012, it looks like light-field technology may be one of the next big things for smartphones.
Shortly before Steve Jobs passed away, it’s thought that he had a meeting with the founder of Lytro to discuss the possibility of using their technology in the iPhone.
Light-field cameras capture a lot more information about light which comes through the camera lens. This means that unlike any other camera out there at the moment, photos taken on a Lytro can have the focus of the picture changed later. It’s all quite complicated in terms of how it works, but by heading over to the Lytro picture gallery, it’s benefits are clear.
For those already familiar with Lytro, it’s no real surprise that a deal with Apple could happen. The design of the camera appears to have been at least partially inspired by Apple, and initially the software for the camera only worked with the Mac (though it is now compatible with Windows).
In the book ‘Inside Apple’ by Adam Lashinsky, it’s claimed that Steve Jobs met Ren Ng (the founder of Lytro). Although Lytro have not commented on this meeting and details are still sparse, if the rumors are true, the cameras on Apple devices could soon get a big upgrade.
For many amateur photographers, the smartphone is the main way of capturing pictures. For this reason, the introduction of a ‘shoot now, focus later’ feature on the iPhone will no doubt be a welcome introduction.
Although Lytro is currently the only commercial light-field camera, it’s hard to believe that other camera manufacturers aren’t looking into light-field technology. Given the advantages, we can no doubt expect more cameras in future to have this technology, and it’s likely that the Apple and iPhone won’t be the only ones to have this.
While we shouldn’t expect this in the immediate future, as there are still challenges to overcome. Firstly, the technology needs to be condensed into a size which will fit into a smartphone. The technology is also expensive, so costs will probably need to come down to make it more accessible. Everybody loves the ability to refocus a picture after it’s been taken (who wouldn’t), but there are still improvements needed.
Although the first version of Lytro has only recently been released, it seems to be a matter of when, not if light-field technology will be introduced to smartphones. While it may take a few years, it promises a very exciting future for camera phone technology.