Norwegian Optical component developer poLight has teamed up for light field 3D camera technology in consumer designs.
The deal with light field chip technology developer Wooptix allows a camera system to capture light from many angles so that users can refocus the image, change the depth of field or select the point of view afterwards.
Light field technology has been around for a decade but struggled to make it into the mainstream, partly as a result of the challenges in handling massive amounts of data.
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The combination of the solid state optical technology and light field processing enables compact light field cameras for the capture and display on today’s devices and the next generation 3D technology for a natural 3D image.
Wooptix has developed patented proprietary Light Field technology that reconstructs the light field data from a multitude of images captured at different focal planes. One of key features is how to optimize the enormous amount of information coming from light field image and process it in real time in software. Wooptix has already demonstrated live Full HD Light Field video acquisition and processing software on consumer-grade silicon platforms.
poLight has developed a solid-state tuneable lens technology that can replace mechanical focus and liquid lens solutions. The lens uses a piezo-electric actuator, thin glass membrane and a flexible polymer to change the focal length of the camera. poLight’s tunable lens, called TLens, is essentially an auto-focus technology that does not require any movement of lenses. Instead, it works by changing the optical power of the lens system. This enables very fast focal-plane image acquisition – exactly the data needed for the Wooptix light field image processing algorithms.
“Light field capture is usually done with an array of cameras or a plenoptic camera (single lens camera fitted with a microlens array capture multiple sub-images),” said Chris Chinnock, Insight Media. “Wooptix has developed an algorithm that can use a series of depth based RGB images to reconstruct the light field data (a new, third capture technique). The liquid tuneable lens solution used in their prototype cameras worked well enough, but the speed of capture is a bit limited due to having to move a liquid. The new solid-state tuneable lens (TLens) from poLight solves this challenge and does so in a very compact form factor.”
“Depth-plane-based image capture is an important light field capture technique as it retains the full resolution of the scene – something plenoptic cameras solutions don’t allow,” he added.
The TLens solution is very compact enabling a very small selfie camera solution in smartphones. The integration of Wooptix and poLight technology into such a compact front camera modules is allowing capture of light field images today.
“For users, light field acquisition would mean the ability to play with pictures after the user takes them. Currently, before taking a picture, the user decides the focus and chooses a feature like portrait mode or standard picture, after capture they can do only minor edits, such as changing the image filters, crop it, etc. With light field technology, users will not have to decide anything when taking a picture. After the picture is taken, they will still be able to change many of the key features of the image. For example, they can choose to have the entire picture in focus or focus on a particular item or even themselves. So, with light field acquisition you only need to capture now, to be able to play later,” said Javier Elizalde, co-founder and CMO at Wooptix.
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