Apple Acquires Israeli Camera Tech Company LinX Imaging for ~$20 Million
Apple has purchased Israeli camera technology company LinX Imaging for approximately $20 million, reports The Wall Street Journal. LinX specializes in creating multi-aperture camera equipment for mobile devices and it's possible that Apple will use the company's technology in upcoming iOS devices.
Last year, LinX announced the launch of miniature multi-aperture cameras half the height of standard mobile cameras with the ability to create "stunning color images and high accuracy depth maps" for SLR image quality without the bulk of an SLR camera.
The image quality of mobile cameras has reached a dead end. Device makers are striving to differentiate using imaging capabilities but the pixel size race has ended and next generation cameras do not reveal any dramatic improvements. LinX cameras revolutionize mobile photography and broaden the usability span and user experience, allowing us to leave our SLRs at home.
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.
LinX's technology uses software to extract depth information for each pixel to create a depth map for that can also be used for 3D image reconstruction. LinX's website is now defunct, but the company offered products with two, three, and four camera arrays in multiple configurations and sizes. Its most recent technology was downscaled enough to be ready for use in mobile devices.
LinX technology includes several other improvements Apple could potentially take advantage of, including multiple sensors for a smaller size, better sensitivity to light, and greatly improved image quality in low light.
There have been rumors suggesting Apple's iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus will offer much improved dual-lens camera technology with image quality on par with SLR cameras, which could be made possible through mobile camera advancements like those LinX Imaging has worked on.
Camera improvements and iPhone photography have always been important to Apple, and its iOS devices routinely offer highly competitive picture taking capabilities that often outclass devices from competing companies. In the past, major improvements to camera technology have come in "S" release years, so it is likely we will see at least some boost in picture quality in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus.
Apple confirmed the purchase of LinX Imaging with its standard acquisition statement, given to The Wall Street Journal: "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."
Top Rated Comments
Sometimes I really hate this industry.
It's more like, if you make an app that has 50 million registered users that create their own content, most of which compulsively check for new content several times per day, translating into 50 million sets of eyeballs for ads, it's worth $1 billion; but if you make comoditized hardware that can be ripped off by any competitor because patents are becoming worthless, that's only worth $20 million.
Sorry, but the reason you won't get "image quality on par with SLR cameras" isn't because of the sensors or resolution, it's because of the lenses. The quality, quantity, and size of glass you can fit into a phone or compact camera is the bottleneck and the reason phones and compacts still haven't, and probably won't replace SLR-sized camera platforms for a loooooong time for professional quality images.
You can pack as many sensors as you want at resolutions that are stupid-high, but all you're capturing is as good as what's coming through the "glass".
9to5 Mac posted some nice examples.