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Direct digital pix-to-print format proposed

Posted: 10 Dec 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:digital camera? pc? dps? canon? fuji photo film?

Printing pictures from a digital camera without having to use a PC could become a reality if six camera and printer manufacturers have their way. They have proposed an industry standard, tentatively called DPS, to enable direct-wired connection between printers and digital still cameras for direct printing without the use of PCs.

Canon Inc., Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd, Hewlett-Packard, Olympus Optical Co. Ltd, Seiko Epson Corp. and Sony Corp. all are promoting adoption of DPS, which stands not for one specific idea but instead has several meanings, including direct-print service, digital photo system and digital imaging protocol for print service.

The six companies said a recent survey reported that digital still camera users take about 800 shots a year but print only 8 percent of them, partly because printing requires a computer. The DPS proponents said their proposed standard will provide an easy printing environment and therefore, boost the use of both printers and printing paper.

Some manufacturers offer the direct-print function, but it works only on limited models within those companies' brands. Canon, Epson and HP all are major printer suppliers, yet their printers are incompatible. "They employ different specifications and have no compatibility at all," said Nobuaki Sakurada, deputy senior general manager of Canon Digital Consumer Products Development Center.

DPS uses USB1.0 as a physical layer. And the Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP), defined by the International Imaging Industry Association in July 2000, is the standard for image-file transfer between a digital still camera and PC via USB.

'Inherited' layer

The six companies defined the DPS layer on the PTP without modifying existing PTP and USB layers. The DPS layer interfaces the application layer of DPS-compatible products with existing layers. "Thus the applications layer can be inherited even if the physical layers change," Sakurada said. In future versions, DPS could be expanded to include other communication protocols such as wireless LAN, he added.

When a camera and a printer are connected by a USB cable, the camera becomes a USB client and the printer the USB host. In the DPS application layer, the digital still camera functions as the storage server and a print client. The printer works as a storage client and the print server. After connecting the camera and the printer by acknowledging that both support DPS, the camera requests printing.

DPS supports image editing on the display of the digital still camera. Printing operation details, such as number of pictures, index printing and date, can also be specified from the camera. Printing status will be displayed on the camera's monitor screen.

As a software solution, DPS needs only limited buffer memory. Proponents expect that DPS capability can be ported from low-end cameras with limited functions to high-end cameras with a variety of functions.

Though proponents introduced the USB cable-based direct connection, some printers already have flash card slots for direct printing from the cards. "Printing from memory cards is another quite-easy way. We will continue to support direct printing from memory cards as well," said Katsuhiko Nishizawa, general manager of planning and design department at Epson Information Products.

USB on-the-go, added to USB last December, is another way to directly connect devices without PCs. "Each device needs to have a USB OTG chip, which increases the cost. But there is a possibility that Epson independently supports OTG in DPS environment," Nishizawa said.

- Yoshiko Hara

EE Times

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