Pelican Imaging’s Plenoptic camera for camera phones

by Mark R

This is a prototype for camera phones known as the Pelican Imaging’s array camera.

Pelican’s array works on the same principle as those antennas that work together so that they can see things light years away. Have you ever seen photos of the VLA (Very Large Array)? If you’ve seen movies like 2010, Contact, and Terminator Salvation, then you have seen at least one of the 27 giant antennas in some form.

Now imagine this VLA technology miniaturized in what Pelican Imaging calls the plenoptic camera. You can see the 25 ball-shaped lenses, which all work together all of the small images to create a larger one. I have a video of it after the jump that demonstrates this tech in action.

If this technology was somehow mass-produced, it would lead to thinner cameras, which would invariably lead to thinner phones. Hopefully, the pictures don’t look like the usual shotty ones that often appear on camera phones. It seems like camera phone technology is constantly improving, and soon it will probably be that photos from cameras and phones will be just as good. If that is the case, then the future of cameras is not that bright.

So, is this the camera for the next iPhone? It seems like the goal of Apple to make their products thinner and thinner, so I don’t see why not.


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