Toshiba Plans to Add Lytro Refocusing to Smartphones with a Dual Sensor Camera

Toshiba, TCM9518MD, Dual Sensor Smartphone Camera, Smartphone Cameras, Future Tech,

Two heads are better than one and it seems the same will go for smartphone cameras as well. Toshiba is looking to add a new dual lens and sensor camera package to the mobile device world. Spotted by Digital Trends, the internally named TCM9518MD sensor apparently won’t be used in some kind of 3D imaging setup. Instead the sensor duo will work together to create Lytro Camera-like pictures that you can refocus later as well as removing unwanted objects in your shot.

The two quarter-inch 5MP CMOS image sensors capture frames in sync to create a single, larger 13MP picture. On top of resolving a higher pixel image, the two lenses will also allow mobile shooters to create “Deep Focus Images” where everything in the picture is in focus. Details are sparse for now, so we don’t know if this also includes the ability to selectively change the focus in post production. Perhaps this dual sensor setup is simply a way of capturing everything in focus without having to bump up the aperture and sacrifice fast shooting, large aperture lenses on smartphones such as the ƒ2.2 lens equipped Apple iPhone 5s and Nokia Lumia 1020.

Currently, in camera post-capture refocusing can be simulated to some success using apps like Focus Twist for iOS and refocusing apps for Windows Phone 8, including one officially from Nokia. On the horizon, though, it seems Apple invested some interest in Light Field camera technology when it filed a patent earlier last month.

Another feature of the two-camera module is it will let smartphone users highlight objects and remove them from the photo. It’s a feature that everyone else already can do by shooting a sequence of photos and removing objects from the combining shots, but perhaps Toshiba’s extra optics will provide a better or easier way of removing photo bombs.

Like many smartphone imaging parts, the TCM9518MD has not made its way into existing devices quite yet. With mass production expected to begin in April 2014—well after Mobile World Congress—we don’t expect to see anything featuring this technology until Photokina or a surprise announcement in the middle of the year.

Via Digital Trends

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Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee is a freelance journalist and photographer based in Brooklyn.