• Digitization

Shining a light on smartphones

Today, the photo and video functions of a smartphone are deigned to be its second most important feature. Every single lens that goes into a smartphone has to be precision measured and tested. When it comes to the testing and measurement of smartphone camera lenses, we are the industry standard.

Working on smartphone and laptop

The size and slimness of smartphones might go up and down year on year like a serial dieter but one aspect that follows an ineluctable trajectory is their photonic sharpness and the higher and higher resolution of the pictures people take. It is something that most of us have come to expect. But who would have thought it, twenty years ago, that you could carry a camera in your pocket that weighed less than 100 grams, yet took on the mighty Nikons and Canons of this world.

We were there, at the start of the story, twenty years ago. It was us that were approached to test the lenses destined to be installed as part of a micro camera in a mobile phone. The word smart was still waiting in the wings. We responded with the ImageMaster® PRO 1, a table-top instrument for qualifying optics that looked like it could have been dispatched from the cook shop. Now, when it comes to the testing and measurement of smartphone camera lenses, we are the industry standard. And the latest version ImageMaster® PRO 10 (pro for production) looks more like something out of the operating room.

Reccording videos about a show with smartphone

Today, the photo and video functions of a smartphone are deigned to be its second most important feature. Unsurprisingly, 100 percent of users make use of the telephone function but, not far behind, 90 percent use their phone to take pictures or videos to share with their friends and families via platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram. Today’s home movie is no longer an elaborate production. And it’s very high quality, with no particular skills, of eye or hand, required. Ditto with stills. We can all aspire to be a Richard Avedon or Annie Leibovitz now two of the most important photographers of our time. Thanks, in large part, to us.

Every lens that goes into a smartphone has to be precision measured and tested. It’s more than likely that the lenses in your phone have been tested by our ImageMaster® PRO. We say lenses plural because increasingly smartphone cameras contain specialist optics like zoom and fisheye in addition to standard lenses. And what many people don’t know is that when you press the reverse icon on your camera to take a selfie a different lens slips into place to accommodate the average arms’ length of 40cm. Press it again and you flip the lens to the main camera in ‘infinite’ modus: from the children playing in the garden to the mountain range yonder.

testing smartphone lenses with the trioptics image master pro

So, every lens – standard (infinite), 40cm, zoom or fisheye, has to be measured and tested. We’re talking multiples of billions of lenses in this worldwide market. The speed of testing is therefore of paramount importance. And the ImageMaster® PRO is reliable, high volume, high security, highly sophisticated measuring and testing equipment. It measures a lens’s image quality in 1.3 seconds and the tray system carriers hold between 100-150 samples inside and measures sequentially. It tests whether the lens performs as it should: yes or no, pass or fail. A faulty lens is very expensive to rectify at a later stage and about 30 perccent of lenses fail. Our kit checks through samples with between 25 and 43 cameras at the same time to determine image quality. It ‘looks’ inversely from top to bottom, illuminating very small, very thin crosses about 1.5 micro meters across. A lot of computation goes into achieving that 1.3 seconds and the process is usually tailored to our client’s needs.

Along with quality control, traceability is another of our key hallmarks and our measurement results are traceable to international standards.

The quality of both still and moving pictures doesn’t stand still of course. If there’s one other sure thing besides death and taxes it’s that technology keeps advancing. And the speed at which it advances keeps getting quicker and quicker. The continuous improvement of smartphones doesn’t just come down to photonics – the software capability marches on inexorably too.

smartphone light on face
Our equipment has to accommodate the increasing versatility of lenses whilst maintaining the same sensitivity and we have three new models in operation. Like the smartphone companies we partner, we have to keep our eyes on the horizon of two to three years’ ahead, constantly looking to see how we can adapt the infinite power of light to meet new needs and applications. And just as the table-top equipment from 2001 looks quaint to us in 2021, it’s more than possible that the corporate or technology selfie we take of ourselves today will be hardly recognizable in another 20 years’ time.

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