A US start-up is trying to reimagine the smartphone

A U.S.-based startup is trying to reimagine the smartphone camera.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Light has come up with a prototype smartphone that could have between five and nine rear cameras with the goal of delivering a phone with high-end standalone camera-like image quality, at a time when the smartphone industry is largely dominated by Apple's iPhone and a variety of Android devices.

Multiple cameras could allow a slim smartphone from Light, co-founded by CEO Dave Grannan in 2013, to approach the image quality typically restricted to bulky – by comparison – digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras. A DSLR is a conventional-looking digital camera with a relatively chunky body and a large lens, necessary physical features that make professional-grade picture-taking prohibitive on a smartphone.


More specifically, the multiple cameras on the Light smartphone could capture many images simultaneously and then use an algorithm to fuse them together into one very-high-resolution image. The camera system would also potentially allow for better optical zoom than on a smartphone like the iPhone.

A company spokesperson confirmed with Fox News that it is developing such a smartphone but would not elaborate.

The news was first reported by the Washington Post.


Light's existing offerings

Light already offers the 16-lens Light L16 camera with 5X optical zoom. The beauty of the camera is that it’s a slim, pocketable device.

Light describes the technology as such:

“When the L16 takes a picture, 10 or more cameras fire simultaneously, capturing slightly different perspectives of the same scene. The L16 intelligently chooses a combination of its 28mm, 70mm, and 150mm modules to use in each shot, depending on the level of zoom. These individual shots are then computationally fused together to create an incredibly high-resolution 52 [megapixel] photograph.”

Light’s prototyope smartphone can capture 64-megapixel images with improved low-light performance and advanced depth effects, according to the Washington Post.

The downside is the Light smartphone likely won’t be cheap. The Light L16 costs $1,950 for a camera without the smartphone component.

Not surprisingly, because the L16 is the company’s first attempt to commercialize the technology, it still has some work to do, according a review at Imaging Resource earlier this year.

The Light smartphone is expected to be formally announced later this year.