Toshiba Creates Smartphone Sensor That Can Focus After The Fact
December 27, 2012

Toshiba Creates Smartphone Sensor That Can Focus After The Fact

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

The Lytro camera is likely one of the cooler pieces of tech to be developed so far this century. What makes this camera so great is its ability to capture the entire light field in a given scene. This data is then stored in the digital image, making it possible to focus on all parts of the picture after it´s been taken. Photos taken with the Lytro camera are interactive in a sense, allowing the viewer to look at every part of the image in a clearer view rather than be stuck at one static point of view.

Though the Lytro is responsible for some very cool photos, the technology still has a way to go. As it stands, the camera is a bit pricey (about $400) and requires plenty of light and a steady hand to take the right picture. Additionally, in order to make full use of the camera´s potential, it´s easier for trained photographers to get just the right shot.

For better or worse, Toshiba has said they´ll be bringing this kind of technology to smartphones in the next 2 years.

According to, Toshiba has created a tiny lytro-esque sensor which can fit in today´s mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. This new camera module works by placing half a million tiny lenses in front of the sensor in order to capture light from all angles. These lenses work to provide the sensor with an exorbitant amount of data, such as the angles of light and other elements of the scene in question, This data is then compiled into one image which the end user can then edit and shift the focus, should they want to.

Modern smartphones and tablets are capable of adjusting the focus just before the picture is taken, but Toshiba´s new sensor could allow for this functionality once the picture has already been taken.

Toshiba has also claimed they´ve improved the basic Lytro functionality, allowing for a more precise degree of focus management. Again, while the Lytro camera has introduced a new way to look at photography, it still has some bugs to work out.

If the test photos appearing on Gizmodo are any indication, Toshiba may still have some improvements to make to their design. The pictures show 3 people lined up slightly behind one another. In one shot, the person in the background is in “focus” while the person in the foreground is out of focus. In the second shot, these two switch places with the foreground in focus and the background blurry. The person in the middle remains slightly out of focus in both images, and both images look as if they were taken with the world´s first camera phone.

According to Gizmodo, Ren Ng, the CEO of Lytro had once met with late Apple CEO Steve Jobs to discuss the possibility of bringing this technology to the iPhone, making it commercially and widely available. Should Toshiba deliver these sensors in the next two years (expected by March 2014), they could beat Lytro in bringing this tech to the masses.