Latest HTC One Features a Unique Dual Lens Depth Perception Camera


Today, HTC announced the release of their latest HTC One model, the M8. Full of spec updates across the board, one aspect in particular sticks out, especially for us, who are a bit more image-savvy than most consumers: it features a camera setup with two lenses where most phones have only one.

This unique setup initially caused some head-tilts and confusion, as it wasn’t anticipated to be a 3D camera, but the details have since been made clear.

The two lenses are for two separate cameras, one being the main camera, and the other being a secondary camera with a unique, specific function. The main camera utilizes their standard 4MP “UltraPixel” camera. Just above the main camera is a smaller, secondary camera, 2MP in resolution. However, the secondary camera doesn’t actually capture an image. It’s there to capture depth within an image, much as our own two eyes allow us to do with our vision.

Why is this significant? Well, for a few reasons.

The first is the increase in autofocus speed. Since the camera can actually measure depth, it doesn’t need to rely purely on the contrast method oft used in mobile devices. This allows for a boost in autofocus speeds, clocking in at around 300ms. A quick speed for any camera, let alone a phone.

Another reason the depth perception camera is of significance is it’s ability to offer unique editing features. With the dual-camera setup, it’s possible to draw even more bokeh out of an image, something not always possible with such small sensors. Beyond that is the potential for the HTC One to produce Lytro-like images, allowing focus to be selected after capturing a scene.

Most excitingly, though, is the announcement that there will be an SDK available to developers that will allow them to make use of the depth map. Stored in the metadata within the resulting JPEGs, this information and SDK will allow for even more creative uses of this new type of information.

If you’d like to read up more on the other specs on the phone, see some hands-on photos of it, and even see a few example images from the camera, you can do so over at Engadget.

  • Renato Murakami

    I feel I’m seeing the start of a trend that will make me move from Lumia 1020 to an Android phone in the future (that plus several investments and features Google has been putting out recently).
    Might also be a new trend for cameras in general. I’ll just repost a comment I made earlier on Gizmodo:

    The basis of this tech is really interesting and needs more exploration.

    I’m not interested in gimmicky stuff… and that’s the main problem I’m seeing up ’till now.

    Not interested in post capture refocusing, not interested in 3D-like effects, parallax or whatever, and I don’t really want an invasion of plugins, dedicated apps and whatnot just to view images.

    Not that those are not interesting by themselves, but I can’t see them more than gimmicky stuff that don’t really matter in the long run.

    But two cameras/sensors seeing image from slighly different perspectives can have more interesting results, if done right.

    I’m thinking more practical stuff here, like faster auto focus, image stabilization, better resolution, better color reproduction, more efficient noise filters, real auto effective HDR.

    And than some stuff going further – automatic/facilitated occlusion removal (say, removing unwanted objects/people in the scene), better groups shots by replacing faces of people who blinked or whatever, multiple focus point video, among some other more advanced stuff. See that some of those are already available, but the set up is a bit complex since it needs multiple exposures from the same camera.

    This is the stuff that matters. I think they can all become better.

    If the algorithms for those comes, and smartphone processors are able to deal with it fast enough, I can see this as being the next step not only for smartphone cameras, but for cameras overall. But it needs further R&D.

  • ms

    Cool, so its kinda like a digital rangefinder.

  • Mike


  • CurrentCo

    Hey you know what, that’s some pretty cool technology.