In terms of image quality the tiny sensors in smartphone cameras still cannot compete with the larger variants in DSLRs and enthusiast compact cameras. However, some companies are looking at innovative ways of improving smartphone image quality by combining two or more camera modules with some clever software processing. One of those companies is Light, a Silicon Valley startup that so far has been operating in stealth mode but now has let the MIT Technology Review have a closer look at the technology it is developing.

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Light's camera modules feature arrays of lenses and sensors and, apart from smartphones, could also be used in cars or surveillance cameras. By combining the images from several sensors and lenses, not only image quality can be improved but the images can also be used to implement innovative digital zoom solutions or allow for refocusing of images, in a similar way to Lytro cameras. While using larger sensors or zoom lenses requires space that is not available in current smartphones the Light technology can fit into very small spaces.

Light has currently no working prototype but is expecting to launch a camera module by the end of 2016 that can capture 52MP images and will feature some of the functions mentioned above. Light's concepts certainly sound interesting but the company is not the only one working on camera array technology for smartphones. Only last week it was announced that Apple has bought the Israeli company LinX which is looking at very similar technologies.

Mobile has been a major driver for innovation in imaging for a while now and it certainly looks like it is going to stay that way. We are looking forward to seeing what the Light and LinX technologies can do when implemented in working devices.

Source: MIT Technology Review