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Pushing the Boundaries of Smartphone Camera Technology

Rhys Hanak - December 4, 2018

No technology has changed the way people view the world quite like the smartphone.

Its presence is ubiquitous in today’s society—so much so that it has become a fundamental driver in what many consider to be an unprecedented age of information access. One of the most powerful ways that the smartphone does this is by streamlining the capturing and sharing of visual imagery; the sharing of pictures (which far predates the iPhone and Google Pixel, judging from Palaeolithic cave art) has a special way of communicating what the written word so often cannot.

By developing lens technologies that can improve how modern images are captured, we believe that we can enhance one of the most important parts of the human experience—human connection.

Camera Phone To Smart Phone

The world’s first camera phone was the brainchild of Philippe Kahn, a Parisian mathematician and entrepreneur who moved to Silicon Valley in the early 80’s. On June 11, 1997, Philippe Kahn integrated a point and shoot camera with a mobile cellphone to share a picture of his newborn daughter over the Internet.

The world's first camera phone

The famous picture of Philippe Kahn’s daughter, which was taken by the world’s first camera phone.

The first generation of iPhones launched just a decade later, setting what would soon become a benchmark for 21st century smartphones.

Henry Jacobson, an award-winning photographer and film maker, discussed the relationship between photography and smartphones in an interview with TIME,

“Photography has always depended on technology, and every change in technology has affected the history of photography, but the smartphone, in its nature, is a device that is not for photography. It’s a device that is for communication. . .”

Jacobson goes on,

“The fact that everyone is a photographer has changed the way that everyone thinks about photography. It’s become about the sharing of experience . . .”

We believe that our first mobile lens design, which boasts 35% improved angular resolution in comparison to an industry-leading telephoto lens assembly, can further enhance how these experiences are shared.

What Is Angular Resolution?

We talk a lot about angular resolution. So what exactly does it mean?

Via Sciencing,

“Angular resolution, also known as the Rayleigh criterion and spatial resolution, is the minimum angular distance between two distant objects that an instrument can discern resolvable detail.”

In other words, improved angular resolution means an improved ability to distinguish (or resolve) small details. This is exactly what makes angular resolution so important: the more detail we can see in an image, the better.

Below is an example of two images with different F-numbers, and thus different angular resolutions: the one on the left is an image captured with an F2 aperture, while the image on the right is captured with an F10 aperture.

F-numbers in photography

Note: A lower F# = a higher angular resolution for a given focal length.

As you can see, the image on the right is unusable.

While the image on the right is a dramatic example of low angular resolution, this comparison is an excellent example of how angular resolution can determine how blurry / visible the details of an image are.

The Future of Mobile Photography

Although mobile devices are often vilified in the media (sometimes for good reason, considering their addictive potential), they have undoubtedly transformed the way we connect with family and friends. We believe that by pushing the boundaries of conventional smartphone cameras, we can create more meaningful communication experiences that enhance the lives of people all over the world.

Rhys Hanak

When I’m not sharing NexOptic’s story with the world, you can find me in the mountains hiking or out on a run.