Nokia invests in 'snap now, focus later' camera startup

Nokia may be looking to add "snap now, focus later" camera technology to its line of smartphones, if an investment it made is any indication.

Nokia Growth Partners, the venture-capital firm for Nokia, has invested in California-based Pelican Imaging, a start-up focused on camera technology that lets you change photos significantly after they're taken. 

Pelican's technology is very similar to that of the Lytro camera. A user can refocus a photo after the fact, focus on multiple subjects, segment objects, take linear depth measurements, apply filters, change backgrounds and easily combine photos. Presumably, Nokia wants to take Pelican's software and commercialise it into its line of Lumia handsets, as camera usage is on the rise.

Additionally, Pelican created its first array camera in 2011 which uses multiple lenses at once to build up one image from the many images taken. Array cameras "are on the cusp of being commercialised and Pelican does software for that", Bo Ilsoe, a partner at Nokia Growth Partners, told Bloomberg.

Nokia has always been known for its cameras, generating buzz for its PureView technology and 41-megapixel camera that is found in the 808 PureView. Arguably, the camera technology can be seen as one of the reasons the Finnish smartphone manufacturer has turned a corner, as it sold 5.6 million Lumia phones last quarter. Nokia is not nearly as big as Samsung or Apple, but is doing well versus other competition like HTC and BlackBerry.

Camera technology has been at the forefront of smartphone marketing in recent years, as more and more customers ditch traditional point and shoot cameras for what is found in their pocket. Nokia could use Pelican's technology in its smartphones and market against competitors.

Is Nokia on the cusp of releasing an array smartphone camera? That would certainly make us turn our attention away from the HTC One's UltraView technology.



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