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Xenon strobe flash empowers next-gen camera phones

Posted: 18 May 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:xenon? strobe? flash? led? camera?

Aiming for a more practical approach to generate high-quality pictures from cellphones, Linear Technology Corp. has enabled the use of high-quality Xenon strobe flash in camera phones to replace the limited illumination of LEDs, and improve the requirement of cameras to be closer to the subject for clearer pictures. Makers of cellphones with camera features can now produce them at an affordable price and compact size, with the capability of yielding high quality photos.

Xenon-flash-lamps-powered camera phones are ahead of current phones in the market with an intense and easily diffused light over a wide area, as the light produced is a hundred times of that of point source LEDs. Image blur is also prevented as the flash produced is much faster than that of the LEDs. Operating at a color temperature close to that of the natural light, Xenon flash lamps do not to require color correction, which is needed by the blue peaked output from white LEDs.

These features enable camera phones to deliver high quality photos even at several meters away from the subject, better than the limited one- to three-feet distance for LED-based camera phones.

"Next generation cellular phones will deliver high quality photographic capability," said Jim Williams, staff scientist for Linear Technology. "By solving the critical flash illumination challenge, we can look forward to camera phones that provide excellent photographic performance in a small form factor and at a reasonable cost."

Xenon strobe flash lamps have been in production for many years in film and digital still cameras, primary component to Linear Technology's camera phone solution. The solution incorporates the patented LT3468 high efficiency photoflash capacitor charger, which charges a high voltage capacitor, meeting the form factor and efficiency needed for cellphones. The small footprint and low profile of this photoflash solution allows it to be used in small form factor handsets, significantly improving the photo image quality.

Moreover, the LT3468 photoflash capacitor charger solution enables a quick and efficient charging of the Xenon flash lamp in as little as one second, a five-fold improvement over conventional solutions. The also scheme supports "red-eye" reduction, whereby the main flash is immediately preceded by one or more reduced intensity flashes.

"This innovation leverages our understanding of power management solutions for handheld consumer products and promises to further fuel the camera phone market, which is already growing exponentially on a worldwide basis," said Don Paulus, vice president and general manager of Linear Technology's Power Business Unit. "This is a vivid example of how Linear Technology works closely with customers to develop enabling technologies that enhance both end products and the user experience." He expressed that they are looking forward for a continued growth of their power management business, complementing the increased demand in digital consumer electronic products.

Market analyst IDC expects the worldwide camera phone market to grow rapidly over the next several years, from 19 million units in 2002 to 298 million units in 2007. This makes the camera phone market as one of the fastest growing segments of the overall worldwide cellphone market.

- Reden Mateo

Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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