Royal Philips Electronics has introduced a display module with an integrated video camera that provides higher performance and eases time-to-market for cellular handsets, the company said.
The module combines a passive-matrix, color super-twisted-nematic display and a flexible copper-foil substrate incorporating a CMOS camera chip and companion chip that performs JPEG image compression and serves as a single-host interface between the camera and display. The module is designed for entry-level camera phones, said Wout Verhagen, director of business development of mobile display systems at Philips, Eindhoven, Netherlands.
"In the past, separate camera and display interfaces were required, Verhagen said. "This module has a single interface that optimizes integration of the camera into a mobile phone and speeds performance by allowing higher frame capture rates."
Verhagen added that while other camera/display solutions capture up to 10 to 12 frames a second, Philips' module can capture 15 to 30 frames a second. This results from an on-board accelerator on the companion image compression chip that reduces the processing load on the phone's baseband and enhances the performance of graphics-intensive applications, such as games, he said.
Philips' module aims at a rapidly growing market for integrated camera phones. Global unit shipments will more than quadruple, from 32.2 million in 2003 to 146.9 million in 2007, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, Boston.
"Lots of camera modules are being integrated into cell phones," said Chris Ambrosio of Strategy Analytics. Nokia, Panasonic, Sharp, and Toshiba are among the mobile phone makers either already offering or developing integrated camera phones, he said.
Philips' display module is capable of 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 pixel resolution on a 1.7in. diagonal display. Those resolutions are well suited for entry-level camera phones, but Philips plans to use higher-resolution active-matrix LCDs for future versions of the display module, according to Verhagen.
Pricing information for the module has not been released. Samples will be available in May, with volume production slated to begin the second half of this year in Philips' Asia plants.