Today’s smartphone cameras are already quite useable in broad daylight, though of course still no match for any DSLR or even compact camera, especially when it comes to low light/noise/grain environments like your local pub or restaurant.
A start-up company called Pelican Imaging wants to revolutionize phone cameras using a 25 micro camera array instead of the one you know; with all the benefits and features quoted below:
GigaOM says the secret behind Pelican’s technology isn’t unlike the HDR feature found on the iPhone. The hardware captures multiple images (or sets of data), and then uses post-processing software to assemble it all into one high-quality photograph. Pelican is less obsessed with cramming more megapixels into the phone, and more interested in finding the best way to pair a sensor with a lens (or lenses, in this case).
Pelican’s technology has the potential to upset the traditional tradeoff between the sensitivity and resolution of a camera and its thickness. It also brings new capabilities to cameras, including post-capture focusing, foveal imaging and programmable frame rates. We have been investigating these aspects of computational photography in our laboratory at Stanford for a number of years, through the Stanford Multi-Camera Array, which is big, slow and expensive. Pelican’s solution is small, fast and inexpensive – which makes it a very exciting technology.
I am really interested in seeing this technology applied. As we all know the best camera is the one you have with you, and that would be your phone at any given time in your worst case scenario of being without a DSLR or P&S.