Nokia to invest in next-gen Pelican Imaging tech, allowing “fly eye” cameras for your Lumia

It looks like Nokia is continuing to concentrate on mobile photography as the venture-capital investment arm of the company, Nokia Growth Partners, is throwing some money behind Pelican Imaging (http://www.pelicanimaging.com). The technology is expected to creep into future Lumia phones as the hardware behind the Pelican Imagining gets commercialized.

So what does Pelican Imagining bring to the table? They make the software to handle multiple, tiny lenses that make up a meta-camera.

Think of flies eyes and you’ll have a better understanding. The idea is that with numerous, small cameras versus one large one, you can have more control over focal granularity and basically “do more stuff”.  So Pelican doesn’t make this hardware, they just make the software to process all of the images together (you can peep the video below to get an idea of how it all works).

If that sounds a lot like those new-fangled Lytro cameras that allow you to take a single photo but then tap to re-focus, you’d be right.  Of course, you don’t need numerous cameras to do a Lytro-like effect—in fact, tune in later today and we’ll show you how you can do it in April, 2013.

So when can we expect some multiple lens-cameras for our Lumias? Probably not in the immediate future (read: this year) but the good news here is that Nokia is once again ahead of the curve, investing where imaging will be in two or three years and not just working on today’s gear.

Combined with their purchase of Scalado, their over-sampling 41MP PureView (which will be instantiated later this as a Windows Phone ‘EOS’), optical-image stabilization in the Lumia 920 and Nokia is set to continue dominating mobile photography.

Source: Bloomberg; via Engadget; Thanks, everyone, for the tips

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

48 Comments
  • Looks Nice
  • Can't wait for this.
  • This is INNOVATION!!!
  • +1
  • did you already try REFOCUS APP? It's just like this!!!
  • To be honest, that is like comparing software based image stabilisation to a full hardware based optics' stabilisation. But a nice app it is, nontheless :)
  • I couldn't agree more, but refocusing is what we need after the photo has been taken... It's just like tilt shift but deeper and clearer.
  • That's cool.
  • Cool. I wonder if this software could be used to link the cameras on multiple phones together, here in 2013?
  • http://www.wpcentral.com/french-project-ovid-looks-bring-video-recording-together-windows-phone
  • Cool
  • An array of smaller lenses is thinner than a single larger lens.  Maybe this will pave the way for a proper oversampling Pureview camera in a slim form factor.
     
  • I read about this earlier today its awesome im really looking forward to this technology being implemented.
  • This is something that is truly new to the mobile structure.  Let's just hope somebody doesn't try to Samsung it...
  • Lol
  • Thought I'd tickle some funny bones today.
  • yes I hope Nokia buys it befpr Apple or Samsung get it!!  
    well there's a new verb: to samsung
  • There's an app in the store that allows you to do this. It's called Refocus.
    http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=93dddc3e-e895-47bf-bcb2-ff19d7df6533
  • Working on it.
  • So....that "Of course, you don’t need numerous cameras to do a Lytro-like effect—in fact, tune in later today and we’ll show you how you can do it in April, 2013"  bit is related, eh?
  • So changing focal points after the shot? Interesting concept...
  • I wish Nokia would just buy them and keep the technology exclusively to themselves. 
  • I don't think Nokia has the right resources to invest in a buyout of them for technology that won't put money in their pockets by year end considering they still struggling to restructure the company.  They can however partner with the company and get exclusive rights for X amount of time like the did with the microphone. 
  • I'm not even sure why I read Lumia news...ya know, me being a Sprint customer and all.
  • Time for change?
  • yep, long over do. Waiting for the 920+ announcements, because Sprint & Nokia can't agree to terms
  • Are you with sprint due to coverage or price?
  • I've been with them since 01, so I guess that's the reason more than anything
  • Well, that's not a good reason. Why be loyal to a company? They should provided a better price, better coverage, or much better service to earn that loyalty. Since your phone number can be transferred, switching providers is easy. 
  • The first thing Nokia should do is replace that Android phone with a lumia on the front page of the pelicanimaging.com website.
  • Absolutely amazing, future looks focused :P
  • Wow awesome.. What's more awesome is Dan's photo. Cheers Dan nice pic (y)
  • Now this will nock the competition dead!
  • Everytime you write something like, see video below, or link below, a dog dies.. save dogs and think about Mr Bennetts fine app :D
  • Sorry HTC ultra pixels bull shit just got stomped lol
  • Nokia is going to make me get a second job just to keep buying thier phones. I don't think AT&T will be talked into giving me the subsidized price every year.  I mean, I had to have the 920 even though I had the 900, because of OIS.  Now I have to have the EOS because of the 41MP sensor and I'll definitely HAVE to have whatever device utilizes this new technology.  FYI - the Refocus app doesn't measure up to this, at all.  It's a cool app that shows us what might be possible, but it's not there, in my opinion.   
  • I am the same too!! I am going to be so poor. If the hype is good enough, I may have to sell my 808PV for a new EOS!
  • You have a pure view? Awesome. Are the photos worth the hype? And how do the photos compare with those from a 920, in your opinion?
  • I'm still trying to understand why my Lumia 900 takes clear better focused pictures than my Lumia 810, WTF
  • Stupid question but what can't this be used to get the whole picture in focus?
  • AWESOME!!!
  • Crap. I'm always afraid when (great) news like this get out early... Gives the competition time to investigate similar tech for their smartphones. And then they'll bring theirs out before Nokia does... I would hate for that to happen, cause I love Nokia too much :)
  • So true, If the then RIM had not shown off the camera features of the blackberry 10, Nokia wouldn't have had the opportunity to by scaldo!
  • To reply to @pr0phecy, this is no secret project..... and Nokia is not the only investor here, they just made the first noise about this :)
    See http://www.pelicanimaging.com/news/press-releases/pelican_seriesc.html
  • Awesome!
  • Love it, and love Nokia. So glad I bought into the Lumia ecosystem. :)
  • To those who think Lytro, look at the camera they sell. It is overexpensive and huge. This is quite a ways ahead of Lytro. And possible in the next few years. Glad ATT has the $100 tradein because I may need it for the new devices.
  • I know this is a late comment, but I hope this will come in Nokia/Microsoft's phone, because a 10xx series with this would be BEAST!