Light Field Photography Offers a Path to Re-focusable Photographs

A new research development offers the potential to re-focus a photograph after it has been taken and provide a use for the higher and higher pixel resolution that sensors are capable of.
Researchers at Stanford University have developed a way to refocus photographs after they have been taken. The technique involves placing a special filter in front of the image sensor that breaks the image up and allows the camera to record a lot of the extra information that is encoded into the light coming from a scene but which conventional photography and its capture methods ignores.

The image if taken formally

The image processed for a near focus point

The image processed for a far focus point

The research team comprises Ren Ng, Marc Levoy, Mathieu Bredif, Gene Duval, Mark Horowitz,  and Pat Hanrahan has been investigating ways of using the extra dimensions of data encoded into the light. The technique allows them to retrace the rays of light coming into the camera and from this recompute things like focus.

The test camera

The back with filter in place

Camera lenses focus on a particular plane and have a depth of field that is the area in front of and behind this plane that also appears to be in focus. The size of the depth of field depends on the lens focal length and on the aperture used to take the picture. Wider apertures (with a smaller f-number, such as f2.8 or f4) produce a shallow depth of field whilst smaller apertures (with larger f-numbers, like f16 or f32) produce a larger depth of field. Ng, et al’s technique enables an image captured with a shallow depth of field at f4 to be recomputed to place other objects at different planes in the image to appear in focus as if the image was captured at an aperture of f22.

The down side of the technique is that multiple pixels of the camera’s sensor are used to generate each pixel of the final image. So in the prototype system they are using a 4000 x 4000 pixel digital back, with these pixels grouped in 12×12 pixel blocks. So the 16MP camera takes 300×300 pixel images. The amount that you can refocus is determined by the resolution of these blocks of pixels, the 12×12 used producing the f4 to f22 improvement in tests. Note that in theory it should have been the equivalent of f45 but minor inaccuracies in the system reduced this by a factor of 2.

What was seen in the viewfinder

Refocused to a near point

Processed so that it is all in focus

It should be noted that as well as recomputing focus the same methods can be used to allow a recomputed point of view or the extraction of 3D data. This has been demonstrated by the team in a macrophotography situation.

The light field research points to a real, practical use for the increasing resolutions of digital image sensors. Somewhat higher resolution than the test setup’s 16MP would allow the technique to be applied to video footage, providing the sensor could be read fast enough. Still higher resolutions would allow higher resolution output images. An obvious beneficiary would be in sports photography where a wide aperture is needed for higher shutter speeds to freeze the action, but results in shallow depth of field and the focus sometimes not being where you want it to be.

Photography is a long way from having run its course of what technology can offer.

More information including a highly technical paper can be found at the link below:

TFI Provides Significant 2006 Technology Trends

Popular futurist and technologist David Smith (Vice President, TFI) states “These trends are of great consequence to those involved with global business, technology business process, science and universities, government agencies, federal labs, corporate labs, and technology savvy consumers.”
Press Release

Once again, Technology Futures, Inc. (TFI) provides important emerging technology trends for 2006 and beyond developed through our 27 years of forecasting, strategy, and analysis work. Popular futurist and technologist David Smith (Vice President, TFI) states “These trends are of great consequence to those involved with global business, technology business process, science and universities, government agencies, federal labs, corporate labs, and technology savvy consumers.” He adds, “Comparing this year’s trends to TFI’s list of trends for 2005, we see the trends as being still on the mark, with continuing progress being made in all the areas outlined last year. Below we have outlined some of the developments and provide some new trends and enhancements.”


(1) Traditional media continues to change as the impact of the democratization of the Internet and the increased penetration of global broadband coverage expands the Internet even more.

As we noted last year, “Broadband and high-speed wireless penetration reach a large enough market for new classes of applications to emerge. These new products will explicitly take advantage of what broadband and wireless networks have to offer in terms of mobility and accessibility to the global marketplace. Location-based services is one class of service that will emerge.” The impact of VoIP extends beyond the business users and will become common place in the new digital home. 2006 will see the first impact of mobile VoIP in connected devices.

(2) The threat to security and privacy continues to grow and to expand to other devices besides the wired Internet such as . mobile devices and device-to-device networks.

Last year we talked about the dramatic escalation in device-to- device communication versus people-to-people communication. This trend continues, and the increasing threats to security and privacy also increase in tandem.

(3) The digital home is entering the next level of acceptance, with the expansion of the electronic gaming and MP3 marketplace being a major driver.

High definition TV and digital recording at home are important drivers, but increasingly a major driver of the digital home is the electronic gaming and MP3 marketplace. The devices have become more than just a video game or a portable audio experience, with integration into many different devices and vehicles, and the addition of video to the MP3 devices. One of the next phases of growth is that of individual content creation. This do-it-yourself (DIY) content creation will vastly expand on P2P networks and will ride on the back of expanding computing power, storage expansion, broadband penetration, and Reed’s law of community building. The power of the games will expand beyond PCs and game consoles to many other forms and devices. On-demand gaming will become part of many households. IPTV will see a new acceptance and because of both broadband penetration and new business models become part of many households.

(4) Public relations and marketing expenditures and projects continue their shift to the public networks.

Not only the Internet, but wireless and cellular networks and the new smart, location aware devices will play an increasingly important role in the transition to public networks. The usage and proliferation of mobile commerce keeps expanding.

(5) The timeframe of the product life-cycle continues to decrease.

In a continuation of the trend from last year, by the time a product hits the market, its shelf life is half what it used to be. So, to remain competitive, science and research time will become more intensive and innovative earlier as product development time continues to compress at an unprecedented rate. Innovation and a future focus will be necessary to remain in the game. Technologies such as grid technology, mid-weight computer clients, and collaborative computing play large roles in making every device a server.

(6) Globalization and outsourcing continue to be paradigms of success.

Again, as in last year, to be successful in a real-time, global marketplace, businesses must understand and adapt to the new source of competitive advantage by connecting to the core competencies and customer interaction on a global scale. In the business world, global collaboration is imperative. Outsourcing becomes more strategic–it’s not all about price.

(7) The age of bio enters a new stage of production as advances in the technology continue.

Continuing the trend from 2005, national and global collaboration is enhancing potential bio commercialization. Bio is beginning to see a pay-off in 2006, and the first wave of consolidation takes place.

(For a complete listing of last year’s trends, please see “TFI Provides 2005 Trends that will Catalyze the Future,”
Mr. Smith has been actively involved in technology management and forecasting for more than 30 years. Since joining TFI in 1996, he has assisted in creating and implementing plans for such organizations as Boeing, CIA, Coca-Cola, Department of Defense, Embraer, Hughes, Intel, Compaq, Kodak, Kyocera, Lockheed Martin, National Security Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and Sun Microsystems.

Recent national and international presentations include Keynote Speeches for the U.S. Senate Conference on Emerging Technology, Information Management Forum, Kodak’s Global Leadership Forum, the Photography & Imaging Manufacturing Association (PIMA), 7-11, and the Society of Telecommunications Consultants (STC) Conference.

Mr. Smith’s views on technology trends have been prominently featured in Business Week and American Demographics, among other publications. His complete bio can be found at Many of his citations and activities can be found under “TFI News” at An electronic copy of his photo is located at

For more than 25 years, TFI has helped organizations plan for the future by offering outstanding technology forecasting, strategic planning, trend analysis, and strategic market research services in high-technology and telecom technologies. Drawing on proven, quantifiable forecasting methods and strategic applications, we combine the vision of the futurist with the down-to-earth judgment of the technologist. Let us be “Your Bridge to the Future.”

An Inkjet Pen, Anyone?

US patent application by an Australian company for a multi-color inkjet pen
Yes, yet another interesting use of the inkjet technology, this time in a pen.

Australian company Silverbrook Research Pty Ltd has filed US patent application number 20050265770 for a pen that uses multiple ink heads to be able to print variable width lines and in multiple colors. The patent naturally allows for a wide number of devices that can include various combinations of features. Some of these features including using a pressure sensitive ball tip not only to guide the pen but to control an attribute of the ink, such as line width, one or more control buttons that allow control of other features, such as ink color, and sensors in the pen to allow things like line shape to change depending on direction, for calligraphy type effects. Ink cartridges are replaceable and the pen is battery powered. In addition the pen may offer an interface of some sort so that other characteristics can be changed, by computer say, without having to overload the pen with buttons. Yet another option is the storage of the motion data in the pen or the transmission of it back to another device.

It is an interesting idea and we wait to see if any real products come out of it and how useful they are. One could envisage pens that act like markers that also capture the motion data and can upload it to your computer, so you are free to draw anywhere on anything but can capture the line shapes, placement and color later into a computer for other purposes. The simple application is, of course, a pen that offers a very large range of colors within the one pen. Then the questions become how archival is your pen, what is the shelf life of the inks and how much are the replacement ink cartridges? Third party inks for your pen, anyone?

What will be the next application of inkjet technology? In a tattoo device, for example?

Samsung OLED TV

SAMSUNG Electronics Develops World’s First 40-inch a-Si-based OLED for Ultra-slim, Ultra-sharp Large TVs
Press Release

Samsung Electronics, the leader in TFT-LCD technology, has successfully
developed the world’s first single-sheet, 40-inch active matrix (AM)
OLED ( organic light-emitting diode ) for emissive flat panel TV
applications. The high-definition-compatible OLED prototype has a wide
screen pixel format of 1280×800 (WXGA) driven by an amorphous silicon
(a-Si) AM backplane to permit faster video response times with low
power consumption.


Samsung’s 40-inch OLED panel was demonstrated for the first time at the
world’s largest display industry event, Society for Information Display
(SID) 2005 International Symposium, Seminar and Exhibition in Boston,
May 24- 27.

Manufactured on Samsung’s fourth generation (4G) production line with a
mother-glass size of 730mm x 920mm, the new OLED prototype combines all
of the traditional features of emissive OLED technology, including wide
viewing angle, thin package size, no color filter and no backlight,
with the enormous production infrastructure advantages of standard a-Si
techniques. To date, AM OLED prototypes have used costly polysilicon
approaches, which have limited production sizes.

Shattering traditional AM OLED size limitations, the new prototype
offers a maximum screen brightness of 600 nits; a black-and-white
contrast ratio of 5,000:1; and, a color gamut of 80 percent. Motion
pictures with ultra-high quality images can be impeccably reproduced by
skillfully employing OLED’s rapid video response capabilities for image
processing of HD-class resolution. The ultra-thin shape of the panels
will allow future TV set designers to create televisions with a total
thickness of only 3cm or less.

After launching its OLED development initiative in 2001 to secure
leadership in next-generation display technologies, Samsung developed a
14.1″ WXGA (1280×768) OLED panel in 2004, followed by the world’s first
21″ HD-class (1920×1080) OLED panel in January, 2005. This ambitious
pace of innovation accelerated development of today’s unusually large
40-inch OLED prototype, paving the way for large-size OLED TVs.

“Our development of a 40-inch OLED will provide a firm basis from which
we can become the unassailable market leader in the flat panel display
market of the future,” said Dr. Kyuha Chung, vice president of Samsung
Electronics LCD R&D Center . “We’re taking an early leadership
position in the next-generation display market, building on Samsung
Electronics’ success in the TFT-LCD market.”

Samsung Electronics is the supervisory and lead research institution
for detailed implementation of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry &
Energy’s (MOCIE) Next-Generation Growth Engine Industries Initiative.
The latest round of development has been conducted as part of the
project, “Development of Solution-Based AM OLED for Low-Cost 4G HDTVs
using a-Si.”

About Samsung Electronics

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. is a global leader in semiconductor,
telecommunication, digital media and digital convergence technologies
with 2004 parent company sales of US$55.2 billion and net income of
US$10.3 billion .  Employing approximately 123,000 people in 93
offices in 48 countries , the company consists of five main business
units: Digital Appliance Business, Digital Media Business, LCD
Business, Semiconductor Business and Telecommunication Network
Business.  Recognized as one of the fastest growing brands,
Samsung Electronics is the world’s largest producer of color monitors,
color TVs, memory chips and TFT-LCDs.  For more information,
please visit the web site, .

Epson Prints OLED Display

Epson Creates World’s First Large Full-Color OLED Display Using Original Inkjet Technology
Seiko Epson Corporation (“Epson”) has used its original inkjet printing
technology to successfully develop the world’s first large-screen
(40-inch) full-color organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display

It is easy to forget that Epson used to sell computer monitors and
actively works on LCD technology for many applications. OLED technology
looks like a good one to provide cheaper, larger and better large
displays than LCD or plasma. Like most new technologies, there have
been issues with sorting out the manufacturing process. Epson is
addressing this.

Self-luminescent OLED displays, which offer outstanding viewing
characteristics, including high contrast, wide viewing angle, and fast
response times, are widely seen as the leading candidate for the next
generation of thin, lightweight displays. One of the major obstacles to
their realization, however, has been the perceived difficulty of
forming organic layers on large-sized TFT (thin film transistor)
substrates. Thus the question of when fabrication processes for
large-sized OLED flat panel displays would become technically feasible
had been anyone’s guess.

Epson has been actively working to develop and commercialize
next-generation OLED displays. The company, long a leader in inkjet
printers, has developed an original inkjet process for depositing
organic layers on large-size TFT substrates. Using this adapted inkjet
technology to form organic layers on large-size substrates in a simple
process, Epson has now developed the world’s largest (40-inch diagonal)
full-color OLED display prototype.

By establishing an OLED display manufacturing system and process that
can handle oversized substrates, Epson has beaten a path to large-size
OLED displays, as well as to lower cost small- and medium-sized panels
cut from larger TFT substrates.

Epson believes that the characteristics of OLED displays make them the
ideal device for entertainment applications, whether in equipment for
the road or living room. The company is thus gearing up towards
commercialization in 2007.

About Epson

The Epson Group increases its corporate value through its innovative
and creative culture. Dedicated to providing its customers with digital
image innovation, its main product lines comprise information-related
equipment such as printers and projectors, electronic devices including
displays, liquid crystal panels for projectors, semiconductors and
quartz devices, and precision products such as watches. Epson products
are known throughout the world for their superior quality,
functionality, compactness and energy efficiency.

The Epson Group is a network of 84,899 employees in 110 companies
around the world, and is proud of its ongoing contributions to the
global environment and to the communities in which it is located. Led
by the Japan-based Seiko Epson Corp., which is listed on the First
Section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the Group had consolidated sales
of 1,413 billion yen in fiscal 2003.

Outline of prototype 40-inch full-color OLED display

Screen size    40-inch diagonal

Number of pixels    1280 x RGB x 768dots (W-XGA)

Driving method    Active matrix

Pixels per inch    38

No. of colors    260,000

Main Specifications

Screen size    40-inch diagonal

Number of pixels    1280 x RGB x 768dots (W-XGA)