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TI Unveils New Chip For DigiCams

Texas Instruments unveiled a new processor for digital cameras
that it said will cut by half both the start-up time for the camera and the
delay between shots. The new chip also supports wireless networking, TI said, so
a user could add a Wi-Fi card to their camera and transfer pictures wirelessly
to a computer or a printing kiosk. With more processing power than previous
generations, TI said, the chip will support some editing and image-correction
features, like the elimination of “red eye” in photographs, as well as better
recording of video to memory cards. Manufacturers are expected to target the end
of this year for the release of cameras featuring the new technology.

Consumers have said they want crisper, clearer pictures plus
enhanced functionality in their point-and-shoot digital cameras. Texas
Instruments Incorporated has answered the call with its latest
digital media processor technology. Aiming to reach store shelves for this
year´s holiday retail season, camera manufacturers can quickly incorporate this
new programmable processor into their cameras, giving consumers a host of new
features and functionality to capture the perfect image.

"Camera manufacturers are striving to bring the performance of a traditional
35-mm SLR (single-lens reflex) camera into the hands of the amateur photographer
at an affordable price, said Dave Pahl, business manager for TI’s Digital Camera
Solutions group. "TI enables this $ 999 SLR level of performance in point and
shoot digital cameras at a $ 299 price point."

A Leader in Programmable Digital Camera Solutions

With greater than 20 percent marketshare for programmable processors in digital
cameras, TI´s DSP-based processor has become the technology platform of choice
because it gives manufacturers several crucial advantages. The inherent
programmability of these processors allows manufacturers to "customize" the chip
through their own image pipeline technology. By more than doubling computational
power and performance, TI´s new processor allows manufacturers to implement
user-requested functions and add special features that distinguish their
products in an increasingly crowded market. Because of the advantages of
programmability, TI has been instrumental in helping the market achieve its
already phenomenal growth. In fact, 7 out of the top 10 point-and-shoot camera
OEMs currently use our technology. The technology is readily available and can
be quickly deployed, allowing new cameras to reach store shelves in less than 12
months. This is particularly important given the development time for a
hard-wired ASIC can be as long as 12-18 months.

Approaching the Performance Levels of Single-Lens Reflex Cameras

No more waiting – Now users won´t worry about missing that special shot because
their camera isn´t ready. Next generation digital cameras will pack enough
processing power that they can respond in times competitive with SLRs. TI´s
digital media processor reduces shot-to-shot delay by 2X, cuts boot-up time by
half and improves MPEG-4 video storage by 3X on any type of memory card.

Sophisticated color processing – Another improvement in photo quality is
real-time automatic focus, white balance, and exposure. Compliments of TI´s
programmable processors, new cameras will additionally detect and reproduce
subtle gradations, tonings and shadings to reproduce what the eye actually sees.

TV-quality video – High quality video is becoming a requirement. Users can now
capture MPEG-4 video, and record video clips that can fill up the entire length
of the memory card. In addition, consumers can now display crisp, full format
video and still images on a PC or TV compliments of a glueless interface.

Enhanced Features Allow Amateurs to Expertly Take Photos

New scene modes – Digital cameras now offer numerous modes, such as landscape or
action shot. Extra processing power on the digital media processor enables
complex modes-such as nighttime action or portraits in low light conditions.

Flexible lighting – Sub-optimal lighting, such as half sunlight and half shade,
is a tough challenge for today´s cameras. TI´s new processors make it possible
to sense an entire composition and automatically select the best settings.

Enhanced connectivity – This latest processor supports full speed USB 2.0, which
allows users to quickly move large images to a PC or photo printer. It also
offers built-in interconnects to easily add in a Wi-Fi® card. With WLAN, users
can wirelessly connect cameras to home devices, as well as enable a new service
concept called digital photo "hot spots," allowing consumers to walk up to a
kiosk and print or transmit a photo.

On-camera image editing – With the new TI processor, cameras will offer internal
editing and auto-image correction features to eliminate such common problems as
red-eye. TI’s technology solutions do not stop with just the digital media
processor. Our complimentary power management capabilities prolong battery life,
system run time, and simplify the design of a camera’s power system. New
integrated, power management system on chip technology supports all power rail
requirements in a digital camera, and significantly simplifies design of a
camera’s power system. The new family of integrated power conversion and battery
management ICs enhances the power to the media processing core, backlight,
display and memory sub-system, and allows a camera to take that perfect shot
without compromising battery life. Both capabilities mean the camera is always
ready to take the perfect shot.

In addition, TI’s highly integrated analog front end solutions reduce overall
system cost by incorporating multiple chips and functions into a single package,
while its audio/video amplifiers are the smallest and most highly optimized for
digital still cameras. Overall, TI provides state-of-the-art total system
solutions optimized for capturing life’s most special moments.

Coming Attractions

Thanks to the ever-improving nature of programmable media processors, in ´05
digital cameras will achieve the shot-to-shot performance of today´s SLRs. Users
will be able to personalize images via an animated user interface including
dialog balloons or perhaps a custom border. On-camera editing will make it
virtually impossible to take a bad picture. And camera users will be one step
closer to capturing the perfect image every time.

VR-Zone is a leading online technology news publication reporting on bleeding edge trends in PC and mobile gadgets, with in-depth reviews and commentaries.

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