Pelican Imaging's "bug eye" camera arrangement allows for multiple focus points.

Nokia's new investment in Pelican Imaging has the media buzzing about "bug eye" lens arrangement in the next the next iteration of the Finnish phone maker's Pure View line of smartphones. Pelican Imaging received $20 million from Nokia for continued developments.

Pelican Imaging is known for its consumer imaging technology that features a grid of cameras to allow for post-capture focusing — a trend that has seen a lot of developments lately. According to Pelican Imaging, its hardware is 50% thinner that existing mobile cameras.

Nokia commented on the investment in a press release“Pelican Imaging’s computational camera solutions are at the cutting edge of mobile camera technologies. We believe they’re positioned to lead the next wave in video and image capture; they’re a great addition to our portfolio of innovators in the imaging space.”

This would not be the first time that a multi-camera smartphone has reached consumers. Dual-camera, 3D-capturing phones like the HTC Evo 3D have been globally available since 2011. Whereas the HTC was designed to capture 3D images, the technology Nokia appears to be eyeing is actually similar to that used in the Lytro Light Field Camera and what Toshiba is exploring in its sensor module that would allow for Lytro-style refocusable images. The question here is whether Nokia can take multi-camera smartphone imaging from novelty to commonplace consumer technology.

 
A patent titled "Aperture Construction for a Mobile Camera“ also reveals Nokia's interest in creating an adjustable aperture for smartphone cameras.
 
From the patent:
 
The invention relates in general to the field of digital cameras, especially small digital cameras. In particularly the invention relates for adjusting an aperture for mobile cameras. The adjustable aperture construction of the invention comprises two electrodes, and an electrical circuit for applying a voltage to the electrodes in order to create an electric field between the electrodes. In addition the construction comprises between the electrodes a center unit with a hole in the middle of it, the center unit being made of an electroactive material, such as dielectric material or electrostrictive polymer. The aperture can be adjusted by deforming the shape of the center unit. The shape of the center unit is advantageously deformed by the electric field created between said electrodes by said electrical circuit.

A patent filing does not necessarily mean that the technology in development, but it does indicate that Nokia is looking at advancing the hardware of its mobile cameras.

For all the gritty details on Nokia's adjustable aperture patent, check out the Nokia Power User blog.