Metalenz and the fascinating tech to obliterate the camera bump

  1. Cheetosdust
    Starting Point Expert Community Expert Feb 17, 2021

    Cheetosdust , Feb 17, 2021 :

    At breakneck speed and illusion, the smartphone industry continues to evolve while trying to deal with the physical limitations of the hardware. Chief among those constraints is the camera system. If you look at the back of your device, you’ll probably find a bump - and there’s a good reason for that. Metalenz believes it has the solution, a flat one at that.

    The contemporary stack

    The camera system on your device is the sum of several pieces. Just the lens usually has a stack of components, but you also have the image sensor. And let’s not forget that these days smartphones usually don’t have a single lens. If the lenses are made smaller, the clarity of the image will start to be affected.

    To give you a more concise idea, talking with Wired, Oliver Schindelbeck, responsible for innovation at Zeiss, said that “the optics usually in smartphones nowadays consists of between four and seven lens elements”. It’s not possible to stack more components vertically without consequently increasing the camera bump - for example, the “periscope cameras” are placed sideways.

    Talk metasurfaces to me

    That complex, rich in components 3D approach is not the path forward, according to Metalenz. They developed a solution that operates in a plane surface: optical metasurface. Its nanostructures are incredibly small (one-thousandth the width of a human hair), which allows the company to save space inside the phone and battery life.

    Metalenz is working with a single lens built on a “glass wafer” that measures between 1x1 and 3x3 millimeters. Traditional lenses bend and direct light, but since the nanostructures have different patterns, they are able to correct that absence.

    It’s not something the company started to develop now. The core tech of what you are reading now is the result of a decade-long research - while Robert Devlin, CEO, and co-founder of the company, was working on his Ph.D. at Harvard. The physicist Federico Capasso is another co-founder. And the company has existed outside the academic incubator since 2017.

    More than a lab-fantasy
    As you can probably guess, it was not always smooth sailing. “Early demos were extremely inefficient. You had light scattering all over the place, the materials and processes were non-standard, the designs weren’t able to handle the demands that a real world throws at you,” said Devlin, quoted by Techcrunch.

    Even now, when the company is ready to go into mass production later this year, Devlin recognizes that “making one that works and publishing a paper on it is one thing, making 10 million and making sure they all do the same thing is another”. But Metalenz is ready, so much so, they claim that right now they are capable of producing one million lenses in a single day.

    Smartphones and beyond
    You are probably imagining this tech being applied to the main camera system of your device, but the company says it has a lot of uses. Outside the smartphone-realm, it can be incorporated in health care tools and virtual and augmented reality cameras. Lab equipment, for example, can also benefit from it. Even cars, according to Devlin.

    And remember the recent patent OnePlus obtained? Yes, the one that allows for the selfie camera to be hidden on the bezel? Well, Metalenz promises their system can also be incorporated in the selfie shooter, reducing significantly the notch or even being used underneath the display.

    OK, now what?
    The company raised $10 million in Series A investment (VentureBeat) and they have plans for “tens of millions” of shipments. “Because we’re using traditional fabrication techniques, it allows us to scale really quickly. We’re not building factories or foundries,” commented Devlin. “We can use what’s already there,” he added.

    The first consumer device won’t be a smartphone and, it is said, will arrive in early 2022. Later that year, we’ll see the first solution implemented on a consumer-ready phone. For now, we don’t know the company that will use Metalenz technology next year, but it is a company “active in 3D sensing”.

    But tell me, dear reader, are you curious about this new camera tech, and do you see it as a viable path to revolutionize commercial electronics?


  2. #2
    Cheetosdust and Starcommander like this.
  3. Tilak G.
    Ice Cream Sandwich Feb 17, 2021

    Tilak G. , Feb 17, 2021 :
    Thanks for the thread @Cheetosdust
    This tech seems so Intriguing and as well as revolutionary.
    The old-day Nokia have once created a lens which requires no auto focus lens,It was a great Hype That lens recieved but the results were Bad. Just like that day by day we're seeing and hearing much more surrealistic Camera lenes innovations. Until we see the actual product results, it's hard to trust the company. On the contrary, it's great to have bump less camera module,There would be a little less worry about getting a backcase which covers camera bump and the Mobile would have Better positioning while we place it on surface.

  4. sumitMZ007
    Jelly Bean Feb 17, 2021

    sumitMZ007 , via OnePlus 6 , Feb 17, 2021 :
    Nice approach in the camera bump solution! Nowadays due to demanding nature, more cameras are needed which requires space and it's hard to implement that on miniature scale! Sensor size is also increasing and to accommodate that in small compact space is becoming challenging day by day! Nice information on improvement in camera department! Earlier around 10years back cyber shots were popular but now smartphone cameras are so much improved that market for cyber shot is nowhere to be seen!

  5. EbyPrasad7
    Gingerbread Feb 17, 2021

  6. Tokolozi
    Most Original Avatar Feb 17, 2021

    Tokolozi , Feb 17, 2021 :
    Cool tech, let's see if anyone of the major brands takes a leap and tries it out. Another cool technology I would have liked to see appear in phones is A variable zoom lens based on liquid lens technology. But let's see what the future holds.

    My overall standpoint is still to just avoid the bump by making the whole device a bit thicker. To protect the bump I'll need to use a case in most uses anyways....

  7. Getraje
    Froyo Feb 17, 2021

  8. ykrudra
    Gingerbread Feb 17, 2021

  9. Dr.Kishan
    Eclair Feb 17, 2021


  10. #10
    Krishanu02 likes this.
  11. dsmonteiro
    Community Consultant Staff Member Feb 17, 2021

    dsmonteiro , Feb 17, 2021 :
    Hi there,

    If you want to make that request, there's a considerably better way to do it than to post in unrelated threads. On the Community app, if you press the "+" sign, you'll see a "Feedback" option. There you can both submit bug reports and suggestions like the one you made above. By doing so, the feedback will go directly to the software team.

    Posting here, you're just sharing with other users like you, while not participating in the topic's discussion.

  12. Kvl_21
    Honeycomb Feb 17, 2021

  13. otto2
    Photography Expert Feb 17, 2021

    otto2 , Feb 17, 2021 :
    Let s wait and see, how good the quality of this meta lenz product will be-like that oil lenses @Tokolozi mentioned /only used in low quality devices. Of course it would be great to get some optical zoom option with good quality, but I want to wait and test this lenses first. 😉

  14. Anit Gangadharan , via OnePlus 8 Pro Ultramarine Blue , Feb 17, 2021 :

  15. Rajnish_Dhull
    Ice Cream Sandwich Feb 18, 2021

  16. dhanush_r@j
    Gingerbread Feb 18, 2021

  17. SAIGUNDA3333
    Cupcake Feb 18, 2021

    Gingerbread Feb 18, 2021

  19. Thakuraaiin
    Cupcake Feb 18, 2021