According to Bloomberg, Nokia is poised to invest in a relatively young company called Pelican Imaging, presumably in the hope of bringing its novel imaging tech to future Nokia phones. The trick here? Pelican is an expert in miniature sensor tech that could bring Lytro-like focus-free imaging to your smartphone.
Your current phone camera works a lot like a standard digital camera, albeit on a small scale: A moving lens system with a single opening focuses light onto an electronic sensor. But though these systems have been perfected over decades, phone camera tech is still very limited: Due to hard physics they’re not great in low light and the image quality leaves a lot to be desired.
But remember Lytro? The weird digital camera that needs no focussing and can actually be “focussed” after you shoot an image? This camera uses what’s called plenoptics–a fixed, square array of tiny lenses in front of a digital sensor. The tech is the future of imaging because it offers many advantages, and that’s exactly what Pelican has been working on. Imagine being able to whip out your phone and snap a photo instantly without waiting to focus on the detail you’re trying to capture before it fleeting moves away? What about recording video the same way? 3-D imagery?
Nokia’s already shown it has aggressive plans for phone photography with the PureView system, so perhaps this tech may be an important part of Nokia’s future too.