The Japanese mega-manufacturer Toshiba are planning a photographic revolution as a part of their push to grab more digital camera market. Deep in the bowels of the Toshiba R&D labs is a new kind of sensor module, the all seeing eye.
The new miniature module, 1cm cube, allows any camera to become a Light Field Camera (LFC), a camera that captures the entire scene, allowing for unlimited adjustment to a photo after it is taken.
Unlike Lytro Toshiba will be making the new sensor technology available to other manufacturers, allowing any next generation Smartphone or tablet to include the new all seeing eye module and initiating the next revolution in digital cameras.
The cube shaped LFC module contains a 5 mm by 7 mm sensor that is perched behind an array of micro-lenses. The array of 500,000 lenses, each 0.03 millimeter in diameter, form a compound array of eyes/lenses, similar to a fly’s eye. The sensor behind the compound lens is a fairly standard CMOS chip that is also capable of video, allowing the LFC module to weave the same magic on moving images.
With each of the 500,000 lenses capturing a slightly different angle images can be assembled from the 500,000 in different ways, to form a 3D image of the scene, measure distance between objects or allow focusing on different objects in the scene. Unlimited focus can also be achieved with every object in focus no matter the distance from the camera. All of these functions executed using the same original image data and software specially developed by Toshiba.
Toshiba’s new sensor, along with the Lytro Camera, operate in an entirely different way to the standard digital camera. Plenoptic photography or Light Field Photography aims to capture all of the available light in a scene, every angle. This is far more information than a normal forward looking photograph requires, however the extra information does open up interesting possibilities, the amazing abilities of the all seeing eye. These functions are just the beginning, future unthought-of possibilities and ways to use the data will evolve as the revolution takes off.
Toshiba plans to commercialize the new LFC module by the end of the 2013 fiscal year, mass production may begin as early as August 2013,
Light field camera’s are a revolution in their infancy, destined to be the new normal this technology will change the way we take photo’s, shifting us from snapping fleeting moments to capturing entire scenes.