Startup brings optical zoom to dual-camera smartphones

March 02, 2017 // By Julien Happich
Founded in 2012, Israeli startup Corephotonics has gathered big name investors around extensive IP portfolio, serving smartphone OEMs with state-of-the-art dual-camera systems.

Early January, the company raised $15 million in a funding round including Samsung Ventures, iPhone manufacturer Foxconn and chipmaker MediaTek, all of whom with a direct interest in integrating all or part of the company's IP. More recently, the startup announced a partnership with prominent camera module integrator Samsung Electro-Mechanics (SEMCO) to develop a complete reference design based on its dual camera IP.

Dual-camera smartphones have been around since 2014, initially to bring 3D effects thanks to the stereoscopic imaging, then leveraging more software to digitally alter foreground or background focus (using a depth map) and obtain neat bokeh effects. Corephotonics is now adding zooming capabilities, beating all digital zooms to date while keeping the tele-objective mechanics within smartphone low-profile constraints.

The dual camera zoom module, only 5.5 mm in profile, combines a vertically-mounted wide field of view (FOV) camera with a narrow FOV telephoto lens mounted horizontally and aligned with a prism (forming a folded optical path).


The Hawkeye camera module.

With this optical arrangement and proprietary image fusion algorithms, the company claims its Hawkeye camera module achieves over 3x more light than the iPhone7+ and about 30 to 35% better image resolution when zooming.