Accompanied by the right software, a new dual-camera system from Toshiba could allow for post-capture focal control.

Toshiba has announced a dual-camera imaging system for smartphones that could allow for post-capture focal control. Combining two 5-megapixel cameras with some yet-to-be created imaging software, Toshiba claims the unit can produce images that can be refocused after capture. And although these sensor modules are smaller than smartphone standard size — at 1/4-inch (roughly 3.2 x 2.4mm) versus 1/3-inch (4.7 x 3.5) — the images are output at the same resolution as produced by 13MP smartphone cameras.

From Toshiba:

The TCM9518MD camera module incorporates two 1/4-inch 5M-pixel CMOS image sensors, making it suitable for smartphone and tablet PC applications. The distance between a camera and objects can be calculated by using the TCM9518MD in combination with a dedicated companion LSI. As a result, distance information can be provided as depth data, which allows you to create new features together with application software. For example, it is possible to realize a focus adjustment feature and objects extraction after images are captured. The resolution enhancement feature available with the companion LSI makes it possible to improve the output resolution to approximately the same level as 13M-pixel smartphone cameras. As a result, it is possible to realize smartphones that are thinner than those with a 13M-pixel camera but offer comparable resolution.

This is not the first time we've heard of Toshiba working on such tech for smartphones. Last year, we reported on an imaging system with 500,000 lenses — each measuring .03 mm in diameter — that sent separate images to sensors measuring 5x7mm. 

No word yet on when Toshiba's forward-looking imaging system ideas will actually be seen in the marketplace.