Sony sees the clear advantage of High Dynamic Range (HDR) images and has invested $994 million into the development of a new chip to bring this technology to consumers. The new chip is stacked rather than built side-by-side like traditional sensors. This helps make the chip smaller so it can fit into cell phones.
What does this mean for consumers? First, HDR images have more detail in the shadows and highlights, making the picture look more life-like than traditional images. These images could look the same as what your eyes see. Currently, photographers produce HDR images by taking multiple pictures of the same shot in different exposures. Then processing those photos together using expensive software. By doing this at the sensor level is a huge step for photographers and video producers. Putting this chip in cell phones is an even larger step. These sensors are expected to be in full production by 2013 and we could see Samsung and Apple using them.