No more crappy cell phone camera pictures if Kodak has its way

The photography experts at Kodak must be tired of those awful pictures you get from your camera phones too. 

Today the company rolled out new chips that promise to make even the smallest cameras take better, more detailed photos.

Kodak says its KAC-05020 Image Sensor is a 1.4 micron, 5-megapixel device that allows capture of high quality images in small cameras, with resolution that equals what is available from current devices using larger, 1.75 micron pixel CMOS designs.

Kodak said unlike other small-pixel sensors which can produce poor images, especially under low light conditions, the 1.4 micron pixel used in the KAC-05020 Image Sensor changes this convention, providing image quality that can equal or surpass what is available from current 1.75 micron-based  devices.Light sensitivity in the new sensor is enhanced by using the company’s Truesense Color Filter Pattern technology, which adds panchromatic, or "clear," pixels to the red, green and blue pixels already on the sensor. Since these pixels are sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light, they collect a significantly higher proportion of the light striking the sensor. This provides a 2x to 4x increase in sensitivity to light (from one to two photographic stops) compared to current sensor designs, improving performance in low light and reducing motion blur in action shots, Kodak said.

At 5 million pixels, the KAC-05020 offers high resolution in the popular 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 packages, supporting digital image stabilization, rapid auto-focus, red-eye reduction, and facial recognition that promises digital camera-like performance in a camera phone, Kodak claims.

The new chips are slated to ship in the second quarter of  2008.

The announcement is the latest from Kodak's growing patent licensing arm, which has become a critical contributor to its profitability as the company emerges from an expensive transition into a producer of digital imaging and printing systems, according to a Reuters report. Kodak expects to earn up to $350 million a year from royalties and related revenue through 2011. 

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