Second lens gathers data about image depth that can be applied later; competition for Lytro.
In a technological breakthrough announced this week at the big photography trade show at CES, Toshiba launched a device to be included in smartphones in the near future with the potential to change the way users interact with their digital photographs. Toshiba announced that it has started to ship a dual-lens module designed that uses computational photography to allow users to refocus images and change depth of field after the fact.
The module's second lens captures depth information that is applied to the main image captured by the first. Each lens projects its image onto a 5MP sensor; the two images can be combined and scaled up to 13MP. Called the Toshiba TCM9518MD, the dual lens camera module gives the Lytros Light Field camera its first meaningful competition. Given its smaller size and the fact that it was designed with mobile devices in mind, the Toshiba unit is more likely this technology will be deployed more extensively and successfully than the bulkier Lytro.
Since the camera would be incorporated into future smartphones, users will be able to easily share the resulting images and manipulate the focus on screen using apps.