Eastman Kodak said Monday it has developed an image sensor that greatly improves the quality of pictures and video captured by camera phones.
The technology could be incorporated in mobile phones and other smaller point-and-shoot cameras as early as next winter, the photography company said.
"Most camera phones - ever though there's 700 million or so produced every year - unfortunately still behave like toy cameras," said Fas Mosleh, a marketing director in Kodak's image sensor business. "The pictures usually come out dark and fuzzy, and video clips are full of unwanted noise and blurriness."
The KAC-05020 Image Sensor, the world's first 1.4-micron, 5-megapixel chip, is at least doubly sensitive to light than current devices. It produces crisper images even when light conditions are not ideal when shooting a moving target, Mosleh said.
At 5 million pixels, the KAC-05020 provides the highest resolution available in the 1/4" optical format, and enables imagery up to ISO 3200 and support for full 720p video at 30 fps. The sensor is also supported by the Texas Instruments' OMAP and OMAP-DM solutions, enabling a host of KODAK Image Processing and Enhancement Features (such as digital image stabilization, rapid auto-focus, red-eye reduction, and facial recognition) that provide digital camera-like performance in a camera phone.
Kodak plans to provide samples of its new sensors to camera manufacturers this spring. It expects the chips will begin appearing in upgraded cameras in about a year's time without adding to manufacturers' development costs. They will be sold for around $5 each in quantities of 1 million or more, Mosleh said.