As reported by New Scientist, scientists at Stanford University are developing a revolutionary camera sensor, that can actually focus a picture after you take it. No more awkward focus rings and poor quality autofocus turning out blurry images; you could just pick up the camera, snap a shot and away you go.
The technology works by placing over 90,000 miniature lenses on top of the sensor. These micro lenses record the amount of incoming light, as well as the angle at which it hits. Software can then alter the information accordingly, to focus the shot. It also allows parts of the picture to be focussed, not just the main subject.
The biggest implications for this technology are definitely in the security sector. Security cameras often take out of focus images because of the nature of their positioning, and must also operate at night under low light conditions. The ability to focus the relevant bits of footage, rather than trying to squint through hours of poor quality footage will be a huge time saver. The ability to focus background items will also help here, allowing small clues that might have gone unnoticed to be viewed with clarity and analysed appropriately.
That is not to say the average consumer photographer could not benefit. Poor focus has ruined many a hastily taken family snapshot, and taking that out of the picture just gives people one less thing to worry about. However we doubt the technology will be affordable any time soon, afterall, 90,000 miniature lenses don't come cheap.