In a world where one lens just isn’t enough, LG was granted a patent for a 16-lens smartphone camera by the US Patent Office. The development is interesting, considering there is already a 16-lens camera on the market: The Light L16 from The Light Co. While not a smartphone, the Light L16 operates on the Android operating system and is shaped like a thick smartphone. Also, Light Co. partnered with Foxconn, a major OEM of phones, so it’s possible Light technology will find its way into a future smartphone. LG already has a five-camera phone with its ThinQ V40 model.
LG describes a phone with 16 lenses of various focal lengths, which is similar to the Light L16. The multiple cameras allow adjustment of a photo’s depth-of-field post-processing and capture of photos from various zoom lengths without the need for interchangeable or protruding lenses. The difference, however, is in some of the descriptions used in LG’s patent. For example, the camera could be used to photograph an object from different angles, without moving the device (shown in FIG. 6A at right).
Other potential uses for the 16-lens array could be to gather additional depth and 3D information and even fill in the gaps behind a 3D image as it moves. (If you’ve seen a Facebook 3D photos, you’ve seen the halo effect around some images as the screen is moved.) The additional data could also be used to improve HDR and light capture capabilities.