The cube-shaped module is about 1 centimeter per side and contains a dense array of 500,000 lenses, each 30um in diameter, in front of an image sensor measuring 5 mm by 7 mm. Each lens captures a slightly different image from one another, and the camera is said to produce a large, complete picture by using original software to combine the 500,000 tiny images.
The new camera is said to be able to measure the distance to an object based on the differences among the small images. It can also create pictures that are focused on every single part of the image. The camera module can also be used to take videos, and allow the users to retain the image of a figure in the foreground while replacing the background.
Toshiba plans to commercialize the module by the end of fiscal 2013 (March 2014), and call on smartphone manufacturers and other companies to adopt the technology.
Toshiba provided the newspaper with the sample images showing the camera module's after-the-fact refocusing capabilities:
|A picture refocused on a man on front|
|A picture refocused on a man on far back|