Original Source Press Release:
Two new design wins for SMaL Camera|
(Tuesday, December 17, 2002 - 08:00 EST)
The incredibly slender Ultra-Pocket design behind Fuji Japan's 'AXIA eyeplate' and Logitech's Pocket Digital Camera is the basis of two new digital cameras from Radio Shack and Oregon Scientific announced today.
A press release from SMaL Camera Technologies announces the RadioShack FlatFoto and Oregon Scientific DS6610, two new digital camera models that are based on the company's Ultra-Pocket digital camera design. The Ultra-Pocket has the distinction of being recognized by Guinness as the thinnest camera on the planet in January 2001 (an honor that, to the best of our knowledge, it still holds). The credit-card sized camera was first commercialised by Fuji as the AXIA eyeplate with a pop-up lens, and later arrived in the USA courtesy of Logitech as the Pocket Digital Camera with a sturdier design replacing the collapsible lens with a fixed one behind a sliding cover.
Both cameras featured SMaL's proprietary CMOS sensor, and featured the company's adaptive AutoBrite technology that works as a function of the sensor, ASIC and software to produce notably better results with high-contrast scenes (for example, a backlit portrait). The cameras were also notable for aggressive pricing - in Japan, Fuji's camera sells for about US$80 - 90, whilst the Logitech version sells in the US for around $100 - 130. Another strong point of the SMaL design is battery life, which is rated at an impressive 500 - 1000 shots on the built-in 48mAh rechargeable battery.
Really, the only area where we can see room for improvement is in terms of resolution and storage, and the lack of a flash for photos in poor lighting conditions. The current Ultra-Pocket design is a VGA (640 x 480 pixel) sensor, which will it can provide useful images - particularly when coupled with the AutoBrite technology - is not well suited to making large prints, etc. Likewise, with only fixed memory, there is no way for users to capture further images when the built-in storage is full, without offloading images and clearing the memory. We were pleased, then, to hear that the company is working on this aspect, with a next-gen version planned to have 1.3 megapixel resolution and an SD card slot for storage, along with a built-in strobe flash.
SMaL tells us that one of the significant markets it has seen the camera selling to is owners of digital cameras who want a second camera which will accompany them anywhere. With increased resolution and storage capacity, the Ultra-Pocket design should be even more ideal, offering print-worthy images when you didn't bring your larger camera along with you... SMaL are also working on miniaturising their technology still further for use in the cell-phone market, where they expect to be able to offer a camera phone model that will have the lowest power consumption in the world by a factor of three to six times!
Today's announcements sees the original Ultra-Pocket camera becoming available from two companies with impressive distribution capabilities which should see the SMaL design reaching a large market. Radio Shack has a strong US presence - we were told that they actually have stores within 5 miles of 95% of the US population! Oregon Scientific likewise are strong in Europe, and sell to catalogs and stores both there and in the USA.
We don't yet have pricing or availability information for the new cameras, however will update this item when the information becomes available.
SMal Camera Technologies
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|SMaL Camera Technologies Enables Digital Cameras by RadioShack and Oregon Scientific|
Specialty Retailer and Leading Device Manufacturer Leverage the Technology of the World's Thinnest Digital Camera to Make Digital Photography Accessible to All
Cambridge, MA (December 17, 2002) - SMaL Camera Technologies, the developer of electronic imaging solutions and the creator of the award-winning Ultra-PocketÔ digital camera, today announced SMaL-enabled devices by RadioShack and Oregon Scientific. These companies have each released a digital still camera based on SMaL's Ultra-Pocket digital camera design and technology, now available in retail stores and catalogs.
Based on its proprietary CMOS digital imaging technology and patented low power design, SMaL's solution has been heralded for its sleek credit card-sized design, groundbreaking 1/4" thickness, the industry's lowest power consumption and its proprietary Autobrite® technology. These technological advances allow consumers to take between 500 and 1000 pictures on a single charge and never worry about the camera's battery running low or needing to be replaced. Additionally, each SMaL-enabled camera automatically recharges itself each time the camera is connected to a computer via the supplied USB cable. SMaL's Autobrite® technology allows consumers to capture crisp details without worrying about backlighting or glare-eliminating an annoying pitfall of most digital cameras - as the revolutionary technology automatically adjusts the exposure so that details in both bright and dim areas of an image are clear.
"The release of SMaL-enabled devices by RadioShack and Oregon Scientific helps us to further penetrate the mass consumer electronics market and continue to deliver the thinnest, most user-friendly digital still cameras for today's on-the-go consumers," says Maurizio Arienzo, president and CEO of SMaL Camera Technologies. "These companies also recognize the value of SMaL's Autobrite® technology, which adds to the cameras' unbeatable convenience factor. Not only will you always have a camera with you, but also you can take spontaneous pictures without worrying about bright lighting conditions that wash out images taken with other digital cameras."
Delivering the Whole Solution
SMaL delivers a complete solution that features a kit of core components with reference design, offering a turnkey solution and quick time-to-market for their partners. Manufacturers and specialty retailers have the option to apply their own unique industrial design, manufacturing and distribution channels to differentiate their camera in the marketplace.
"SMaL's unique technology offering allowed us to extend our reach into the digital technology market by offering a portable, convenient and affordable digital still camera to consumers, reinforcing our mission to demystify technology in every neighborhood in America," says Bob Kilinski senior vice president and general manager of the Connecting Places Strategic Business Unit of RadioShack. "SMaL's complete imaging solution enabled us to hit the market with the FlatFoto™ in time for the Holiday season, which is critical for RadioShack."
RadioShack, a leading national consumer electronics specialty retailer, is currently distributing the SMaL-enabled FlatFoto at over 5,100 retail stores. Oregon Scientific, best known for its manufacturing and marketing of timing, weather, and personal communication devices, is currently distributing the SMaL-enabled DS6610 in North America and Europe.
SMaL introduced the credit card-sized Ultra-Pocket at the 2001 International Consumer Electronics Show, where it was awarded "Best of Show" for digital imaging. In addition to enabling existing and future lifestyle digital cameras and hybrid devices, SMaL's technology is being leveraged in the surveillance and automotive market. In the security and surveillance markets, SMaL's Ultra-Wide and Autobrite® technologies enable video cameras that help security professionals increase safety and security with the display of wide-angle views and clear, crisp video content, regardless of extreme variations of brightness within the same scene. In the automotive market, SMaL's Autobrite® technology provides high-quality video that will enable driver assistance applications of the future.
SMaL will be showcasing to select OEMs its next generation credit card cameras and imaging technology for mobile handsets at the 2003 International Consumer Electronics show at the Las Vegas Convention Center, South Hall 3-4, Suite 33327.
About SMaL Camera Technologies (www.SMaLcamera.com)
SMaL Camera Technologies is an award-winning developer of electronic imaging solutions for the digital camera, security and surveillance, consumer electronics and automotive markets. SMaL's solutions are built around its proprietary CMOS image sensors, video processing ASICs and Autobrite® technology. These solutions provide previously unavailable benefits, revolutionizing the digital photo and video markets. With SMaL's consumer solutions, featuring low-power consumption and advanced imaging techniques, consumer electronics manufacturers can now offer convenient digital photography by producing the thinnest, most user-friendly digital cameras and mobile imaging devices in the world. SMaL's technology powers digital still cameras from leading consumer electronics companies. In the security & surveillance markets, SMaL's Autobrite® technology enables video cameras that help security professionals increase safety and security with the display of clear and crisp video content, regardless of extreme variations of brightness within the same scene. In the automotive market, SMaL's Autobrite® technology provides high-quality video that will enable driver assistance applications of the future. SMaL was co-founded and launched in 1999 by leading electronic imaging experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). SMaL is a privately held, venture-backed company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
For more information on SMaL Camera Technologies and its products, visit the company's web site at http://www.SMaLcamera.com.
Autobrite® and Ultra-Pocket™ are Trademarks of SMaL Camera Technologies, Inc. FLATFOTO™ is a Trademark of RadioShack Corporation.