Israeli startup Corephotonics has revealed a new camera technology at the 2014 Mobile World Congress that will allow smartphones to take zoomed-in pictures without the use of any moving parts. The Corephotonics dual-camera technology, as its name suggests, uses two different cameras to take photos with zoom that are much clearer and sharper than current smartphones are capable of taking. They plan to bring this technology to many commercial brands as early as the end of this year.
The Two Cameras
The premise of this new smartphone tech is that by using two 13-megapixel cameras together, one shooting in black and white with a narrow field of vision and the other a standard wide-angle color camera, the two images taken simultaneously can be processed and overlapped to create one crisp shot without the need for any moving camera parts.
This is accomplished through an algorithm also developed by Corephotonics. Due to the need for two image signal processors, the technology can currently only be installed on a phone powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 processor. According to CNET, “The software is able to compare images from both lenses and detect if a pixel is off, and then use the clearer pixel in the picture instead.” Additionally, it has been reported that the cameras can achieve focus-lock in just around 100 milliseconds, meaning users won’t lose time focusing when trying to snap a split-second shot.
HDR and Image Noise
Standard HDR, a setting that takes multiple photos at once, highlights images’ best qualities and merges them into one optimal shot, creating clearer photos than the average automatic setting. But for users looking to capture a moving focus point, the resulting images can come out blurry, since multiple photos need to be taken while moving. But according to CNET, HDR photos on cameras sporting Corephotonics’ dual-camera technology will only need to take a single shot, making motion blur virtually impossible.
Corephotonics has also addressed the issue of image noise amplification when taking zoomed shots. Image noise is seemingly random changes in brightness and color that can occur when a camera is used under certain stresses. By removing the color filter from the narrow vision camera that aligns the zoom shot, and applying the overlapping wide angle shot to fill in the color, the camera technology is able to provide “a clear 13-megapixel image regardless of whether it was at 1x or 3x zoom,” according to Engadget.
This technology has huge implications because it improves camera quality by thinking outside the box. Rather than increasing megapixel count or pixel size, Corephotonics dual-camera technology opens a new path to improving smartphone capabilities and lifting limitations on smartphone cameras. Once the technology makes its way to high-end smartphones running Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 later this year, it’s only a matter of time before third-party app developers release apps that approach photography in whole new ways.
It’s an exciting new technology, but is it incentive enough to choose a high-end smartphone over a cheaper, mid-range model?
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons