Auto-focus Functionality Now Available On Camera Phones

Auto-focus Functionality Now Available On Camera Phones

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From the Atsana.com press release:

Atsana Semiconductor and 1 today announced a strategic partnership to make auto-focus functionality available to manufacturers of mobile feature phones.

Camera enabled mobile phones typically rely on fixed focus lenses – which do not provide the image quality that users are conditioned to with DSC’s and camcorders; the depth of field is short, and focus quality can vary from camera to camera due to production line tolerance issues. Auto-focus mechanisms are important with higher resolution megapixel cameras, since the depth of field becomes even shorter due to the smaller pixel pitch and production line tolerance issues become more noticeable.

Programmability is the key differentiator when combining 1’s Helimorph piezoelectric actuator with Atsana Semiconductor’s J2211 media processor. “The J2211 brings real-time intelligence to the sensor-lens auto-focus module, where the auto-focus algorithm can be fine-tuned to provide optimal performance,” said Vijay Dube, director of business development at Atsana. “Enthusiastic feedback from handset manufacturers to a recent functional auto-focus demonstration confirms that Atsana and 1 are bringing real innovation to applications on mobile feature phones.”

Conventional auto-focus mechanisms using electromagnetic transducers have several limitations when used in mobile phones: mechanical motors are large in size, hungry for power and are expensive. The Helimorph actuator from 1, with its patented helical structure provides an elegant, compact and low power solution, which is ideal for mobile phones. The actuator is made out of PZT, a piezoelectric ceramic material that changes shape when a voltage is applied across it. The change in shape in the material is extremely small, typically a few tens of microns. However, the geometry of the Helimorph mechanically amplifies these extremely small changes to give unparalleled displacement for a compact actuator.

“The result is more than stunning picture quality,” said Mark Shepherd, CEO at 1. “The combination of Atsana’s J2211 media processor and 1’s Helimorph auto-focus mechanism gives manufacturers of mobile phones the capacity to explore new application areas, such as 2D barcode scanning, text recognition and focus tracking in movie mode. Together we are pushing mobile applications into a new dimension.”

The auto-focus solution consists of the camera module with the Helimorph actuator interfaced directly to the J2211 media processor, and is controlled through an I2C interface. The auto-focus algorithm runs on the J2211 media processor, and is able to provide reliable and high-speed auto-focus functionality. In addition to auto-focus, the J2211 also performs all the ISP functions, as well as JPEG image and MPEG4 video processing.

Auto-focus camera modules based on the Helimorph, and using industry leading lenses and image sensors, are available now from a number of different module manufacturer licensees, and 1 is currently taking orders for delivery in Q3 2004. Atsana’s J2211 media processor is available now for volume shipments.

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