Think dual camera phones are overkill? How about this bump-less quad camera by the institute that invented .MP3s?


Smartphone manufacturers have found ways to deal with unsightly camera bumps, but the means to do so don't really allow for large, technologically ambitious camera sensors. The ever-diligent Fraunhofer Institute, to whom we owe the .MP3 format among other things, has worked to sidestep this trade-off.

It proposed and demonstrated a slide-out camera module that's thin enough to be included in a reasonably slim smartphone, but allows for serious camera mojo while staying invisible until it's time for work.

The current prototype uses a whopping four image sensors, rotated 90 degrees so they point out of the side of the phone. Meanwhile, a set of tiny mirrors in front of the sensors reflects the image from the front or rear of the phone. It may seem a bit crammed in there, but there's good reasoning behind the design (duh, it's Fraunhofer!).

The engineers tried a single mirror system, which failed at close range. So they added a second mirror and mashed together images from both, resulting in stitching errors. Surprisingly, adding a full second set of sensors and mirrors didn't complicate the mess further, but actually enabled the system to function error-free.

The prototype captures pictures at a 20MP resolution, which is satisfying considering the number of sensors at work. It benefits from auto-focus and optical image stabilization, too. Alas, selling this module to smartphone makers as-is could prove problematic. It's very different to what's currently in use, it requires unorthodox engineering, and it's probably as power-hungry as four cameras firing at once can be.

But we have a hunch that the time for such designs will eventually come. Imagine Samsung licensing the technology, pouring its unlimited money into refining it, and turning it into a smartphone camera you speak of in a hushed, pious tone. It's an interesting possibility!

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source: PC World

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11 Comments

1. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

I'm sorry Apple, but you have no space for this because you are out of courage.

2. Cat97

Posts: 1861; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

I can bet 16 cameras would work even better.

4. Spedez

Posts: 542; Member since: Aug 29, 2014

Why not 1024 cameras while we're at it?

8. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

3. krystian

Posts: 423; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

I wish they focused on other stuff and not camera updates. Honestly, cameras have gotten amazing on phones. If you are a photographer just get something for professional shots. You shouldn't market phones for photographers. I'm a gamer/power user and prefer more power for gaming, more battery, etc. I don't know a single person that got their flagship for the camera. It's just something that is expected but because everything else is stale they are focusing on it more than any other components.

5. sissy246

Posts: 7078; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Agree..

6. parasshah100

Posts: 70; Member since: Jan 01, 2016

That can be said for Gaming as well, Gaming is already great on smartphones already, why improve Gpu/cpu. I can also argue that GPU/CPU'S in smartphones have reached a point where it makes more sense to give stock android and not bloatware like touchwiz that slows phone and use faster storage, use F2FS., etc. And I do know a lot of people who buy flagships for their cameras and not power.

7. parasshah100

Posts: 70; Member since: Jan 01, 2016

The point being we shouldn't complain if we are getting innovation/improvements in either software or hardware or camera or processesors.

10. Mixkhata1

Posts: 162; Member since: Feb 26, 2017

I disagree with u. Camera performance is one.of the few things where there is room for improvement. Processors are already fast enough and screens are bleeding sharp. If u r a gamer, I'd suggest u a console or better yet a PC if u can build it. I'm a gamer at heart but the most i'd play on my phone would be subway surfers. Plus, camera is the ONLY thing which led to the popularity of the Pixels. The rest of it is pretty ordinary.

11. Nebice

Posts: 68; Member since: Jan 05, 2015

well power users are a problem for phone makers, batteries are currently not great (also some are shrinking because of smaller design), the development there is relativly slow without adding more bluk to the phone (which a few high end users care about), a camera however doesnt take much space and its a new selling point^^

9. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1036; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

Time to make every pixel on the screen a micro camera

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