Nokia working on 16-lens 'computational imaging' optics for future Lumia phones

Nokia working on 16-lens 'computational imaging' optics for future Lumia phonesNokia is known for its cameraphones, but with rivals like HTC, Sony and Apple now showing some serious imaging ambitions themselves, what does Finland's finest have in store for the mobile masses?

Well, aside from the perpetually imminent PureView Lumia EOS, further down the line we're looking at “computational photography” courtesy of advanced 16-lens camera arrays.

For some time now Nokia has been working with Pelican Imaging, a company that first came to the fore a couple of years ago with its plenoptic camera, which rather than record images through a single lens uses an array of multiple smaller lenses.

The benefit is two-fold: first, the physical thickness of the lens unit could potentially be reduced, but more significantly the slight difference in angle through the various lens components could be used to adjust focus and other basic settings after the shot has been taken.

Sounds pretty clever, and Nokia smartphones head Jo Harlow has hinted we might be seeing it on board the company's Lumia smartphone line in the not-too-distant future.

“If you look at where imaging is going, computational imaging is an area of exploration,” Harlow explained in a Q&A with Indian newspaper DNA.

“Being able to capture even more data – data you cannot even see with the human eye that you can only see by actually going back to the picture and being able to do things with them.”

So why haven't we seen more progress towards computational photography? It's all about processing power, says Harlow.

“Computational imaging or computational photography requires computational power. That was one of the limitations in bringing that kind of experiences on a smartphone. Changes in the processing capabilities of smartphones opens it up as an area of exploration.”

Sounds good, though Harlow wasn't clear on what sort of timeframe we're looking at before the magic of computational imaging starts to find its way onto mass-market devices. It's unlikely to find its way onto the Lumia EOS – assuming we're talking about the EOS landing sometime in the next few months – but you can be sure it's the kind of feature all the leading manufacturers will be sniffing around over the next couple of years.

In the same interview Harlow also promised we'll be seeing dual-SIM Lumias on the market too, just as soon as Microsoft adds support for more than one SIM in Windows Phone.

Support for multiple SIMs is a common feature on Nokia's Asha feature phones, which are generally aimed at developing markets where more handsets might be shared between more than one family member.


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Stelph  May. 29, 2013 at 13:19

Brilliant! Finally a reason for Quad/Octo core processors in mobile phones

Its good to see Nokia are still trying to push the envelope with regards to cameraphone technology, tho id like to see them go back to testing "unusual" phone formats again. Hell, just steal the Mozilla Firebird concept Nokia and give us that as a lumina and I will throw money at you


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