The Nokia 9, with five cameras. [credit:
Ron Amadeo ]
Remember Light? Light was a company with the wild idea of improving smartphone and other compact cameras by using lots of tiny camera lenses. Plenty of smartphones today have multiple cameras that function as a lens kit with different optical qualities, but Light combined several lenses into a single camera. Its biggest project was a collaboration with HMD for the five-camera Nokia 9, and it also made the L16 camera, a $2,000 point-and-shoot camera with 16 lenses.
Despite the launch on a Nokia phone last year and future agreements with Sony and Xiaomi, Light has quit the smartphone business. Android Authority checked in on the company and learned that Light is “no longer operating in the smartphone industry.” Sure enough, if you visit Light’s website, the company seems focused on machine vision for self-driving cars and other robots. Most references to smartphone collaborations, like the dedicated page at light.co/smartphones, have been taken down.
Light’s technology on the Nokia 9 seemed interesting, but it was also a rather expensive, hardware-based solution that really just did image stacking, which you can do with a single camera and some fancy software. The Nokia 9 had five 12MP sensors that acted like a single camera. A single shutter press would capture five simultaneous pictures, which would then be blended together to form a single image. The sensors weren’t all the same, using a combination of RGB and monochrome cameras, allowing the phone to capture a wider range of light.