Toshiba announces Lytro-like camera phone module

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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

Toshiba has officially announced a new camera module for smartphones that will allow users to refocus images after they have been taken.

(Credit: Toshiba)

The Lytro was the first camera to bring light-field photography to the masses, popularising the concept of refocusing photos. Since then, manufacturers have been looking to develop similar technology for smartphone camera modules, with Toshiba's solution just one of a few hardware and software methods available.

This particular camera module has been in the works for quite some time, and has been through several iterations while in development. In 2012, it was reported that Toshiba was working on a camera containing thousands of lenses or "microlenses", giving the photographer the ability to choose the point of focus after the photo has been taken.

Earlier this year, the company demonstrated the module's functionality in a configuration using these microlenses.

Finally, the production version of the sensor has been unveiled. In a slightly different configuration to the previous offerings, the module now uses two 1/4-inch 5-megapixel CMOS sensors. Placed side by side, the sensors are used to calculate information on object depth, as well as the scene itself.

Once this information has been acquired, the Large-Scale Integrated (LSI) chip uses what Toshiba calls a "resolution enhancement feature" to output an upscaled 13-megapixel image.

According to photography blog PetaPixel, the module will be going into production in April 2014.

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