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SMaL Teams With CreativeLabs, Oregon Scientific

OEM designer SMaL Camera Technologies announced that CreativeLabs and Oregon Scientific have licensed its design for an ultra-thin VGA resolution digital camera.

Oregon and Creative will have thin digital cameras on the market in 2003, which are expected to retail for less than $130.

The cameras will feature VGA resolution, though Creative Labs will bundle interpolation software and market its camera as a 1-megapixel model. Based off the SMaL design, the cameras will be 6mm thick, have an optical viewfinder and a fixed focus lens.

SMaL components have been previously adopted by Logitech for its Pocket Digital camera, by Fujifilm for its AXIA Eyeplate camera (presently selling only in Japan), and, most recently, by retailer RadioShack for its FlatFoto camera.

According to Romney Williams, business development executive director, SMaL, a camera’s size has taken its place alongside resolution and zoom as a key feature for consumers.

“There are two key consumer segments for manufacturers who license our design,” Williams said. “First time buyers, especially younger buyers, who are attracted to the design and the ease of use, for one. The second is as an additional ‘carry anywhere’ camera for consumers who already have a high megapixel camera but don’t want to carry it around with them all the time.”

Cameras based on the SMaL design are 6mm thick, currently the thinnest design available. Indeed, the company’s design landed it in the Guinness Book of World’s Records as the “world’s thinnest digital camera.”

The company’s ultra-small form factor is achieved by a low power CMOS image sensor that uses 20 percent of the power of the nearest competitor’s image sensor. As such, the battery, which generally monopolizes the space inside a camera, can be far smaller.

The company’s proprietary Autobrite technology gives the image sensor increased dynamic range for photos in very bright areas. With Autobrite, the company claims its sensor achieves a dynamic range up to 500 times better than standard CCD or CMOS image sensors.

According to Williams, the company will launch a second-generation camera design with higher resolution and more advanced features in early 2003. It will be slightly thicker than the present design but still “the smallest in its class,” Williams said.