InVisage, a small start-up specialising in nanotechnology that helps improve imaging has been acquired by Apple, according to TechCrunch. This is a fascinating purchase for a variety of reasons, but principally for the future of the global giant.

InVisage uses nanotech to enable small cameras to perform at very high-performance levels in low light. Their principal product, called Quantum Film, is a replacement for traditional image sensors, which are silicon-based. It acts as a photosensitive layer, allowing more light particles to enter and as a result, the image is clearer with more vibrant and realistic colours. This is all very impressive, but the most important part is that InVisage manages to do all of this using nanotechnology, combining advanced subatomic particle science with chemistry. In other words, it makes really small cameras work incredibly well.

Samsung, of course, has been touting its new smartphones as being able to perform in a variety of lowlight environments and has used imagery of nightclubs and starlit nights in its campaigns. Samsung’s technology, however, is reliant on silicon image sensors, and as a result, will always have significant limitations. The new nanotechnology, patented by InVisage, will allow Apple to win a crucial battle against Samsung – that of the real estate used inside a mobile device. Ever since cameras were introduced in phones, they took up a significant amount of space in comparison with the benefits offered. In fact, most major producers considered removal of the camera until it became apparent that the public considered it to be a crucial feature. Apple will now be able to use the additional space for other purposes, and still have a significant advantage in the hotly contested battle of the cameras.

Obviously, other small nanotech start-ups will now be watched closely, especially by Apple who had no doubt already scoped out the competition before making the purchase. Perhaps the most important part of the story, however, is that the silicon limitations have now been lifted, and more advanced camera functions in mobiles will no doubt follow.