The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has acquired camera technology company LinX Computational Imaging Ltd. for approximately $20 million. LinX is a small company based in Israel and specializes in very small camera modules that are suitable for implementation in smartphone cameras.
On the very basic company website a series of multi-lens modules is shown which can be used for 2D and 3D capture and, according to LinX, are capable of a range of special effects such as the ability to refocus an image after it has been captured, measurement of the true dimensions of objects, 3D object modeling and real time background replacement for video calls. The company also claims its modules "set new standards for image quality parameters such as low light performance, HDR, refocusing, color fidelity, shutter lag and more…".
Information on the company website is very limited but we would assume the LinX technology works in similar ways as the two-lens designs in the HTC One M8 or the Huawei Honor 6 Plus. We know that Apple's Steve Jobs was interested in Lytro's light field technology before his death and met with the founders but the LinX technology seems to be less sophisticated.
The acquisition would indicate that Apple is planning to do more of the imaging hardware development in-house. Currently the iPhone range uses image sensors supplied by Sony. An implementation of the LinX technology in future iPhone generations could not only mean improved image quality but also a whole new range of features.
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