Light field technology developer Wooptix is partnering with optical component developer poLight to enable a significant advancement in the capabilities of light field-based camera systems suitable for portable device such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, wearables and more. The combination of the two company’s technologies can now enable compact light field cameras for the capture and display on today’s devices and the next generation 3D technology. Light field technology can capture and display the light rays from a scene to offer a natural 3D image that some refer to as “holographic.” Light field camera systems capture light from many angles allowing users to refocus the image, change the depth of field or select the point of view. All of it after the user captured the 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 unique features of Wooptix’s technology is how to optimize the enormous amount of information coming from light field image or video acquisition, and process it live, fully in software. Wooptix has already demonstrated live Full HD Light Field video acquisition and processing software on consumer-grade silicon platforms. Wooptix’s Full HD video experience brings all benefits of Light Field to the user – refocus at will, change depth of field, select point of view among others, all in software.
poLight has developed a solid-state tuneable lens technology that can replace mechanical focus and liquid lens solutions. The innovation 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. The characteristic of this product enables very fast focal-plane image acquisition – exactly the data needed for the Wooptix light field image processing algorithms.
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.
Dr. Øyvind Isaksen, CEO at poLight thinks the selfie camera on the phone will benefit greatly from poLight and Wooptix technology, as this can help produce much better images with a simple upgrade. This new technology inside phones will be a major differentiator from previous years using standard acquisition methods. One benefit is illustrated below.
The image on the left shows a typical selfie photo where the foreground is in focus, but the background is not. A selfie camera modified with poLight and Wooptix technology allows the rapid capture of multiple images at different depth planes. This light field data can be manipulated to create a superior image with all elements in focus (right image). Alternatively, a Bokeh-effect image can be created or an image with a slightly different point of view.