Apple has reportedly bought Israel-based camera technology firm LinX Computational Imaging Ltd, The Wall Street Journal reports. According to the report, the acquisition may have been for an estimated $20 million.
LinX specializes in producing “miniature multi-aperture cameras designed for mobile devices.” Apple’s motivation for purchasing the firm would clearly be to improve the camera technology on mobile devices including the iPhone.
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Specifically, LinX’s camera technology aims to achieve SLR-level quality photography from a mobile device using a system of multiple lenses rather than relying on a single, extended lens.
In a press release announcing the multi-lens system last year, LinX described the problems their sensor overcomes:
The engineers at LinX have solved all problems associated with combining multiple images captured from different points in space such as registration errors and occlusion related artifacts which are seen on competing technologies.
The LinX cameras are artifact-free, even when objects appear at very short range.
During the registration process between the images, the LinX software extracts very accurate depth information for each pixel and creates a depth map. The software creates true depth information on high contrast objects and on near flat surfaces, such as walls, which are traditionally considered difficult for passive stereo systems. The accuracy and resolution of details in distance maps created the opportunity to use the suggested algorithms for 3D reconstruction.
Photography examples previously available on LinX’s site highlight the indoor and low light performance of LinX’s sensor compared to the now-old iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4 cameras.
Apple has now confirmed the acquisition to the WSJ:
Apple confirmed the acquisition with its standard statement when it has bought a company. “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” said an Apple spokesman.