We’ve grown accustomed to the idea of photos that we can refocus after the fact thanks to Lytro’s lightfield camera and to Nokia’s Refocus app that takes between two and eight photos that you can play with to your heart is content. Now Toshiba has announced the first dual camera module designed for inclusion in phones and tablets, which is able to record depth data and well as an image simultaneously.
The catchily named TCM9518MD comprises two quarter-inch five-megapixel CMOS camera sensors and a dedicated processor. This dual camera module can capture images where the foreground and background, and everywhere in-between, are in focus along with depth data for each object in the picture. Not only can the module allow you to focus, defocus, and refocus the images it produces, but it can generate 13-megapixel images by up-scaling images taken by its two cameras.
Andrew Burt, vice president of the Image Sensor Business Unit, added that: ‘Not only does the dual camera module enable these advanced capabilities [e.g. refocusing] with fast digital focus and little shutter lag, the device doesn’t require any focus motors, so it can be built much thinner than today’s 13-megapixel camera modules.’
Toshiba has made sample modules available to smartphone and tablet manufacturers (they cost $50 a pop), so which devices will be the first to feature them?