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Twenty years ago very few people thought we’d be carrying around a camera, a personal computer, a Walkman, a phone, a compass, a map, a games console… you catch the drift… as one device in your pocket.
It seemed illogical; when Sharp first released the J-Phone, cynics across the globe didn’t believe the public wanted to take photos with their phone, by 2010 more than a billion camera phones have been sold across the globe.
Now that we have phones that have a 41 megapixel camera built in what is the next step? One camera phone lens manufacturer says their new lens (well, ‘lenses’ technically) goes way above and beyond what any other on the market can do. It can scan and create 3D models directly from a video.
Bold claims from Pelican Imaging, California, indeed, there are already a few applications on existing smartphones for 3D modelling, most notably Autodesk’s 123D Catch, but they tend to be a little clunky and not conducive to watertight 3D printable models. Pelican suggest that creating models with their lenses is as easy as shooting a video.
Their lenses use something called plenoptic technology, no? Me neither. Essentially a plenoptic camera uses an array of micro-lenses to capture depth of field in a scene. With an image taken with plenoptic or light-field camera it is possible to re-focus after the picture is taken.
Pelican Imaging have taken this one step further and plan on integrating this into a smartphone allowing the camera to measure from one point to another, take this into video format and it will allow 3D scanning to be as easy as shooting a video.
This light-field technology has been around for some time, Kinect uses something similar and the Lytro camera is gaining a great dea of traction from the Instagram hipster crowd, but the purported difference between these array cameras and Pelican Imaging’s technology is that it doesn't involve bouncing light or lasers off an object so therefore should work better in brighter light.
The video displays the technology's potentials, but what with Nokia and Qualcomm investing heavily in Pelican Imaging, we could be seeing these lenses fitted into our smartphones a lot sooner than you think.
They also seem to have invented an add-on that makes the Cube printer print in full colour, instantaneously while a party is going on. For some reason we’ve got a sneaking suspicion this bit is made up…
Despite the silliness of the printing in the video this is exciting technology and we look forward to seeing it in action.