Explaining the Moto X’s New Clear Pixel Camera

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The much hyped and the highly anticipated Motorola Moto X smartphone will come with an all new revolutionary ‘Clear Pixel’ camera, which is capable of eliminating motion blur and boasts of excellent shots even in low light conditions. Several questions have been posed in this regard and the optical company Aptina, which recently unveiled its Clarity Plus technology, seems to be the supplier of the camera module.

A detailed understanding of Clarity Plus technology requires a better understanding of digital cameras. The sensor of a camera primarily consists of pixels, which capture the intensity of the light rather than its colour. This is the reason behind manufacturers placing a colour filter array over the sensor. Thus, essentially each pixel is covered with a colour sensitive mosaic, allowing the sensor to record colour information. A majority of smartphones use the Bayer RGBG pixel filter i.e. two layers of green with a layer of red and blue each. The Clarity Plus on the other hand, uses a RCBC filter. The C here stands for clear, and unlike the red, blue or green filters, this one doesn’t block any light.

Thus in a traditional Bayer filter, each element corresponds to a particular colour and in Clarity Plus only 50% of the elements would translate to colour, essentially implying that more than half the colour enters without being filtered. This in turn implies that double the amount of light sensitivity can be achieved in the Clarity Plus mode. This offers huge implications as more light essentially implies better images in low light and faster shutter speeds in good lighting conditions. This isn’t the first time that an optical company has used a filter different from Bayer. However, Aptina has ensured that the hardware is perfectly supported by the right software.

This has been achieved by the use of powerful algorithms inside a powerful ISP that does the all the heavy lifting to obtain the right colours. The extra light from the pixels is actually used to eliminate noise, after which the complex algorithm takes over to convert the RCB formant to RGB. Eric Schmidt has already been clicked using the phone and enthusiasts are considering that a confirmation of sorts. If the upcoming Moto X does indeed use Aptina’s Clarity Plus technology, it could be the reason behind using the slightly aged Snapdragon S4 Pro MSM8960 processor.

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