Apple has purchased Israeli Camera technology company LinX Imaging for an approximate price of $20 million. LinX specializes in creating multiple-aperture camera equipment for mobile phones, and it’s apparent that Apple will use the company’s tech in its upcoming iOS devices. More details on expecting what from Apple with LinX acquisition of Imaging right after this jump.
About LinX Imaging, which has announced the launch of miniature multi-aperture cameras half the height of standard mobile cameras with the ability to create “stunning color images and high accuracy depth maps” for SLR quility without the bulk of an SLR camera.
Here’s what the Linx speaks about its new iteration;
“The image quality of mobile cameras has reached a dead end. Device makers are striving to differentiate using imaging capabilities but the pixel size race has ended and next generation cameras do not reveal any dramatic improvements. LinX cameras revolutionize mobile photography and broaden the usability span and user experience, allowing us to leave our SLRs at home.
The engineers at LinX have solved all problems associated with combining multiple images captured from different points in space such as registration errors and occlusion related artifacts which are seen on competing technologies.”
The tecnology that LinX uses is the software to extract depth information for each pixel to create a depth map for that can also be used for 3D image reconstruction, and LinX’ website is now offering products with two, three or four camera arrays in multiple configurations and sizes. On the other hand, LinX technology includes several other improvements that Apple could potentially take advantage of, including multiple sensors for a smaller size, better sensivity to light, and optimized image quality in low light captures.
Camera improvements and iPhone photography have always been in Apple’s agenda, and its iOS devices routinely offer high competitive picture taking capabilities that often outclass devices from competing companies.
Finally, Apple confirmed the burgain of LinX Imaging with its standard acquisition statement, according to the reports from WSJ – “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”
Now that it looks like LinX Camera technology could appear in future iOS devices, which can lead to some significant improvements in camera quality in future iPhones. Photography in its stage, given that the significance of the purchase, they want to take a deeper look at LinX’s tech and that could do for future iPhone camera.
With multi-aperture cameras for mobile phones, LinX offer seveal benefits over single aperture camera sets, including the ability to pack impressive image quality in a smaller size. And that said, Linx is able to also take full advantage of several smaller sensors rather than one larger sensor, preventing the camera from needing a longer lens for the multi-aperture camera.
According to LinX, the use of multiple sensors over a single large sensor let it shrink the height of its camera device by a factor of 1.4 to 2. Comparatively, one of LinX’s dual-aperture cameras was described by the company as “significantly” thinner than the iPhone 5s camera and able to “fit in a device thinner than the iPhone.”
LinX SLR Image Quality
Described as offering SLR-like images in normal lighting conditions with low noise levels, due to their ability to capture more details thanj standard single aperture cameras. For evidence, LinX captures several photos with its LinX 8 mpix, a dual aperture camera with two 4-megapixel sensors with 2.0 micron BSI (backside illumination) pixels, and compared those to images taken with the iPhone 5s (equipped with an 8-megapixel single aperture camera with 1.5 micron pixels) and an iPhone 5.
Noise Reduction and Detail
The images captured using LinX camera were brighter and clearer, with a significant reduction of noise. Available detail when zoomed into a photo was also much greater, as can be seen in the comparison below.
The image you see here was taken in mid-levels of light, at approximately 40 to 50 lux, same as it has taken in restaurant. When compared, the LinX sensor let in more light than the iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S4 – for a photo that is clearer and sharper with less noise.
Very Low Lighting
LinX technology is very much capable to capture photos in low light performance, and indeed by using multiple-channels to increase the sensivity of the camera for better detail. Keeps exposure times short to cut down on the motion blurring that can impact photo quality in conditions where lighting is not optimal. For a mobile camera in one lux of lighting, the detail that the dual-aperture LinX 8 mpix was able to capture is impressive.
Notably, Low light photos with less noise are also achieved through the use of clear pixels (adding clear pixels to standard red-green-blue filters) to let more light pass through in situations where lighting is low. And the use of clear pixels lets in light without the need for larger pixels, keeping resolution high at this point. Larger pixels typically result in more light for the sensor, but using large pixels cust down on resolution.
However, LinX camera’s clear pixels are less sensitive to this issue because they can collect more photons per pixel, also cutting down on noise levels. In its documentation, LinX describes a 1×2 (aperture) camera module with two 5-megapixel sensors with 1.12 micron BSI (backside illumination) pixels, intended for a “super-slim handset with very limited space for the camera module.”
Depth Mapping for 3D Models
LinX camera modules with multiple apertures are able to calculate “ultra accurate sub pixel disparities” between images, letting them create detailed depth maps of a scene. With depth information on a per-pixel basis along with RGB information, LinX cameras can create 3D point clouds of objects from a single frame or a complete 3D model by combining several frames captured from different angles.
Lots more there to talk about Apple and LinX technology in the future. As it’s not clear as yet, whether Apple will incorporate LinX’s technology into its devices, but it’s possible we could see these types of camera improvements as soon as this year.
Rumors already surfaced suggesting Apple is looking forward to integrate a major camera boost for the next iPhone 6s and 6S Plus with new LinX technology that could produce SLR quality images, and LinX’s multi-aperture lens systems could potentially accomplish that feat.
More detailed descriptions of LinX’s technology as well as additional comparison photos can be seen in a June PDF released alongside its latest products.