A couple days back, we heard about this company Nokia was making an investment in: Pelican Imaging. These guys are all about light-field cameras, like the Lytro we saw arrive last year, which can snap an image once and let you worry about choosing which parts are in focus after the fact. While neither company said so outright, this had us wondering if Pelican technology might end up in a future Lumia model. Today we get to learn a little more about Pelican, as well as hear about its plans to get its system into a smartphone.
Again, Pelican isn’t formally announcing that its cameras will end up in Nokia phones, but it does say that they’ll be found in at least one smartphone from somebody, sometime next year.
The Pelican hardware is pretty unusual, using a grid of sixteen tiny lenses in order to capture the light-field information critical to making this process work. What sounds really compelling about how it stores this data is that the images it produces are largely regular old JPEG files. That lets you easily share them with friends, and the extra light-field info tucked into them only adds about 20% to file sizes.
There are other advantage to Pelican’s tech besides just focal tricks and capturing some depth info; because those sixteen lenses only capture light in one color each, they can produce a higher-fidelity, lower-noise picture, especially in low light situations.
Pelican also makes clear that nothing it’s doing need be mutually exclusive to Nokia; even with the company investing, Pelican could work with other OEMs to implement similar systems in cameras on their own phones.