New Flat Lens Tech Means Smaller, Better 3D Sensors in Phones
Feb 5, 2021, 12:14 PM by Rich Brome
A new company called Metalenz has developed a unique flat lens technology that is well on its way to revolutionizing the infrared 3D depth cameras used in many phones. The flat lens technology is much smaller than the traditional lens systems, and offers better performance. In both ToF cameras and Structured Light systems (such as Apple's Face ID), Metalenz technology offers better optical efficiency that translates to better power efficiency and longer battery life. It can also "result in a face identification that works better, particularly when the person is further away from the phone or in sunlight." The company's flat lenses are made using semiconductor technology similar to that used to make microchips, simplifying the supply chain. The lens itself uses meta-optics, or optical metasurfaces, consisting of patterned structures 1000x smaller than a human hair. The technology was originally developed at Harvard's John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). Harvard has granted Metalenz an exclusive worldwide license to the technology. Metalenz was founded in 2017 and emerged from stealth mode this week, announcing $10 million in funding from 3M, Applied Ventures, Intel Capital, M Ventures, and TDK. According to Wired, the "company has formed partnerships with two semiconductor leaders (that can currently produce a million Metalenz 'chips' a day)", and "Metalenz will go into mass production toward the end of the year. Its first application will be to serve as the lens system of a 3D sensor in a smartphone." The company declined to name the phone's manufacturer.
Jan 14, 2021
Samsung today officially unveiled its Galaxy S21 series of flagship phones for 2021. All three models sport a distinctive new "Contour Cut Camera" design where the metal frame extends around one corner to surround the rear cameras.
Mar 23, 2021
OnePlus today announced the OnePlus 9 and OnePlus 9 Pro, its newest flagship phones. The 9 Pro is a true flagship-class phone with a QHD AMOLED display with variable refresh from 1 to 120 Hz, and IP68 water rating, starting at $969.
Feb 9, 2022
Samsung today announced its lineup of flagship phones for 2022: the Galaxy S22 series. The top-end S22 Ultra sees the biggest changes as it essentially absorbs Samsung's Note series with an integrated S Pen stylus and a more Note-like shape and design, instead of the Contour Cut design of the other models.
Aug 10, 2022
Samsung has announced its newest generation of foldable phones: the Galaxy Z Fold4 and Galaxy Z Flip4. Both have similar designs and features compared to their predecessors, with a slew of small updates and refinements across the board.