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Atsana, 1 Ltd team for auto-focus features on mobile phones

Posted: 28 May 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:atsana semiconductor? 1 ltd? camera-enabled smartphones? j2211 media processor? helimorph piezoelectric?

Atsana Semiconductor and 1 Ltd are collaborating on a low cost, low power, small form-factor solution for auto-focus functionality on camera-enabled smartphones.

The work focuses on combining 1 Ltd's Helimorph piezoelectric actuator with Atsana Semiconductor's J2211 media processor.

The auto-focus solution connects the camera module with the Helimorph actuator directly to the media processor, and is controlled through an I?C interface. The auto-focus algorithm runs on the processor, providing high-speed auto-focus functionality.

The J2211 also performs all the ISP functions, as well as JPEG image and MPEG4 video processing.

"The J2211 brings real-time intelligence to the sensor-lens auto-focus module, where the auto-focus algorithm can be fine-tuned to provide optimal performance," said Vijay Dube, director of business development at Atsana.

1 Ltd has been demonstrating its actuator technology to both module makers and leading mobile phone makers for several years. According to Mark Shepherd, the company's CEO, "We are gearing up for production, and hope to see the product in handsets by perhaps the third quarter of 2004 but more likely the first quarter of next year."

Shepherd would not say which companies are interested in the Helimorph auto-focus mechanism.

The companies said conventional auto-focus mechanisms using electromagnetic transducers have limitations when used in mobile phones: mechanical motors are large, power hungry and expensive. Instead 1 Ltd's Helimorph actuator, which relies on a patented helical structure, provides a "compact and low-power solution, which is ideal for mobile phones."

The actuator is made out of PZT, a piezoelectric ceramic material that changes shape when a voltage is applied across it. The change in shape is extremely small, typically a few tens of microns. However, the geometry of the Helimorph mechanically amplifies these tiny changes to give displacement for a compact actuator.

"The result is more than stunning picture quality," said Shepherd. He adds combining the J2211 media with the Helimorph auto-focus mechanism "gives manufacturers of mobile phones the capacity to explore new application areas, such as 2D barcode scanning, text recognition and focus tracking in movie mode."

- John Walko

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