Nokia prepping Lytro-style 16-lens array Lumia camera

By Michael Mayday , May 29, 2013 01:58 PM EDT

If there's one thing that Nokia phones do particularly well, it's photography. The Nokia Lumia 920 and 928 are touted for their ability to capture great images, but it appears the successor to those phone will be able to do even more.

Nokia is apparently looking to implant a 16-lens imaging array for its upcoming smartphones, which would allow for an imaging technology called "computational imaging." The technology allows users to re-adjust the focus on their images after snapping a photo.

Such an array, Tech 2 reports, is likely the byproduct of Nokia's recent investment in Pelican Imaging, a photography software company based out of Mountain View, California.

Pelican technology uses a 16-lens image sensor array, lined up in a 4x4 grid, which can be placed into smartphones. The array's sensors pick up either red, green or blue colors, which then work alongside specialized software to produce an instantly editable digital image.

"If you look at where imaging is going, computational imaging is an area of exploration," Jo Harlow, Nokia's executive vice president for smartphone business said in an interview with Boy Genius Report's Rajat Agrawall. "Being able to capture even more data - data you cannot even see with the human eye that you can only see by going back to the picture and being able to do things with them."

The technique, typically referred to as light field photography, has always been computationally heavy, requiring either a connection to a computer, or a dedicated device, Harlow said. The adoption of computational imaging could advance as mobile phones begin to use more powerful processors.

Cameras allowing for computational imaging isn't exactly new. Lytro, for example, commercialized light field photography in its Lytro camera, which was released in 2011. That camera, appearing in the form of a boxy baton, allows users to take high-definition photos and readjust the focus after snapping a picture.

But the Lytro camera wasn't well-received. The $399 camera was limited to Lytro software and the camera's low-light photos, according to CNET, wasn't up to snuff. Additionally, the largish handheld camera's photos are comparable with smartphone images.

It's uncertain if those drawbacks will translate to Nokia's smartphone cameras. The arrays should appear in camera sometime in 2014. 

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