The lens system uses new technology to bend light the way current multi-optic lens arrays do.

A new company called Metalenz is aiming to revolutionize smartphone cameras with a single, flat lens system. According to Metalenz, a camera built using this new lens tech can produce an image of the same if not better quality as traditional lenses.

Metalenz is launching what they call a “flat lens system” that it says utilizes a new technology called optical metasurfaces. The claim is that camera systems built around this new technology can produce an image of the same, if not better, quality as traditional lenses while also collecting more light. It can do all this while also taking up less space.

The Metalenz tech uses nanostructures to bend light

In a recent article in Wired, Metalenz explains how it is moving away from having lens elements in groups. Metalenz wants to replace the groups with a single lens built on a glass wafer that is between 1×1 to 3×3 millimeters in size. Under a microscope, the nanostructures on this wafer measure a scant one-thousandth the width of a human hair.

The company claims that these nanostructures are able to bend light the same way traditional multi-optic lens arrays do. As light passes through these nanostructures, which make up the aforementioned optical metasurfaces, the result is similar to what is being done with curved sensors.

The nanostructures can even correct for many of the shortcomings found in traditional lenses, according to Metalenz.

The first smartphone deployment will come in 2021

Metalenz plans to put its new lens system into mass production by the end of 2021. The company says that the first commercial application of the new flat lens system will be a 3D sensor in a smartphone of a company.

The company would not, however, reveal which smartphone manufacturer was going to adopt the new tech.

The 3D sensor is similar to what is seen on Apple’s FaceID sensor. A major difference though is that the Metalenz system doesn’t’ need to use lasers to illuminate a subject. This is thanks to the increased light-gathering capabilities of the light-bending nanostructures. Metalenz claims that this advantage will also make its product better at conserving battery power.