Oppo to produce world’s first smartphone using DigitalOptics’ Lytro-like camera

DigitalOptics has announced a deal with smartphone manufacturer Oppo, confirming the Chinese brand will be the first to produce hardware using its innovative Mems|cam technology. If you’ve not heard of Mems|cam before, it allows you to switch focus on different areas in a picture after it was taken, something like the Lytro. The press release states Oppo has placed an order for the camera modules, which were recently put into production by Lite-On.

The fact it’s Oppo which will be first out with a Mems|cam-equipped device isn’t a huge surprise. The firm was one mentioned to us while we spoke to the DigitalOptics team during Mobile World Congress, and also appeared in several news releases after the show. Oppo has also shown a considerable interest in making exciting, unusual camera phones. Last month it came out with the Oppo N1, a smartphone with a rotating, 13-megapixel camera module, showing it’s not afraid to ignore standard design conventions.

Oppo N1Rumors had spread the Mems|cam module would be fitted to Google’s forthcoming Nexus 5 smartphone, but according to our sources at the time, this wasn’t going to happen. Our source was correct, and DigitalOptics even mentions the rumors in its press release, saying, “several technology news blogs reported that Mems|cam was first being brought to market in another smartphone platform. Those reports were inaccurate.”

Having been suitably impressed with DigitalOptics’ camera back in February, we’re pleased to hear it’s about to be fitted to a smartphone, and one produced by an equally innovative manufacturer. Judging by Oppo’s recent output, we should expect something quite different from them, and with luck the resulting device will be put on sale internationally through its own website.

There’s no indication on when we’ll see the Mems|cam phone, but as the N1 has only just been announced, it may not be until early 2014. We’ve contacted DigitalOptics to see if we can find out more.

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