BARCELONA, Spain – February 12, 2007 – OmniVision Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: OVTI), a leading independent supplier of CMOS CameraChip™ solutions for high-volume imaging applications, today launched its first TrueFocus™ camera with Wavefront Coding™ technology for the mobile handset market. TrueFocus revolutionizes camera technology by offering true ‘point-and-shoot’ capability where the entire image is always in focus and always available for instant one-click capture. OmniVision is demonstrating the 3-megapixel TrueFocus camera this week at its booth (1G13) at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
“TrueFocus enables consumers to capture the images they see in real time, with no waiting for the lens to focus and no missed opportunities. TrueFocus delivers our customers a product that effectively targets the mobile handset market by being small, durable, easy to manufacture and cost-competitive,” said Jess Lee, Vice President for OmniVision’s Mainstream Business.
The TrueFocus camera is based on OmniVision’s patented Wavefront CodingTM technology, which is a method of optically encoding light using a special lens to form an intermediate image on the sensor, and decoding this intermediate image with digital processing to create a picture that is in focus across virtually the entire image. This TrueFocus camera consists of a Wavefront Coded® lens; a 3-megapixel CMOS image sensor; and a TrueFocus signal processor.
Catching the Moment
With traditional digital cameras, a major and frequent consumer complaint is that it is nearly impossible to ‘catch the moment’; because the camera requires one or more seconds to focus the lens on the chosen subject, there is an unavoidable delay between point and shoot. OmniVision believes that TrueFocus cameras are the first to offer true point-and-shoot capability; because the entire image is always sharp and clear, regardless of where the subject is in the camera’s field of view, there is no focus-related time delay. Because the image is in focus over virtually the entire field of view, with TrueFocus cameras there will be no more pictures lost because the subject has moved before the lens is focused. In addition, TrueFocus cameras are a lot less susceptible to damage when dropped because, unlike conventional AF cameras, there are no moving parts in the lens system.
From a manufacturer and system designer’s point of view, transitioning to TrueFocus cameras is simple and straightforward. TrueFocus modules are smaller than the AF modules that are currently available. In TrueFocus systems, the mechanics found in classical AF systems move to silicon and thus become subject to Moore’s Law. Wavefront Coded lenses can be formed in plastic at a cost comparable to classical lenses, and will be offered through major lens manufacturers. Replacing mechanical parts with lenses that do not require focusing during assembly simplifies sourcing and manufacturing by combining high quality optical systems with relaxed manufacturing tolerances. With no moving parts, a TrueFocus module requires less power, and performs more reliably in extreme temperatures.
“Classical imaging optics have not changed fundamentally for several hundred years,” said Ed Dowski, President of CDM Optics, a wholly owned subsidiary of OmniVision. “Using the computing power of silicon, Wavefront Coding technology and the TrueFocus system allow us to make significant improvements in the user experience of imaging systems while maintaining or even reducing their cost. We are bringing optics into the 21st century.”
“The revolutionary TrueFocus camera system is the product of a long and dedicated effort by our engineering teams at OmniVision and CDM Optics who worked in close collaboration with our software engineers, our marketing team, our lens partners and our customers,” said James He, OmniVision’s Chief Operating Officer. “We are excited about the future opportunities for this groundbreaking technology.”
About Wavefront Coded®
Imaging Wavefront Coding was invented by the founders of CDM Optics and is protected by numerous U.S. and foreign patents dating from 1995. A Wavefront Coded system differs from a classical digital imaging system in two fundamental ways. First, the light traveling through a Wavefront Coded lens system is not focused on a specific focal plane. Instead, the specially designed lens system defocuses the light from each point in the field of view, regardless of its distance from the camera, and creates an intermediate unfocussed image. Another way to describe this effect is to say that the special Wavefront Coded lens system changes the path of each light ray such that the light deviates from the path that it would take when passing through a classical lens. The modification of the direction of the light as it passes through the lens system is referred to as “encoding”.
The second difference found in a Wavefront Coded system, referred to as “decoding”, arises when the intermediate unfocussed image is restored by digital processing. The intermediate image from the sensor is processed to produce an image that is as sharp and clear as a conventional image, but has the important non-classical property that the depth of field (or depth of focus) is much greater than that produced by a conventional lens system using an equivalent aperture or ‘f’ stop number.
The Future of Wavefront Coding
Wavefront Coding technology is applicable in many other markets and OmniVision is currently developing Wavefront Coded solutions for advanced medical imaging applications, automotive vision and detection systems, homeland security and military applications. TrueFocus systems will also be available for the digital still camera market, where consumers complain of the same time delay in picture capture as they do with camera cell phones.
Certain statements in this press release, including statements regarding the performance, achievements and capabilities of the TrueFocus camera, are forward-looking statements that are subject to risks and uncertainties. These risks and uncertainties, which could cause the forward-looking statements and OmniVision’s results to differ materially, include, without limitation: potential errors, design flaws or other problems with the TrueFocus camera; risks associated with building customer acceptance of and demand for products and applications incorporating the Wavefront Coding technology; the rapid changes in technical requirements for camera phone products; competitive risks; as well as other risks detailed from time to time in OmniVision’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings and reports, including, but not limited to, OmniVision’s most recent annual report filed on Form 10-K and quarterly report filed on form 10-Q. OmniVision expressly disclaims any obligation to update information contained in any forward-looking statement whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
OmniVision and Omnipixel are registered trademarks of OmniVision Technologies, Inc. CameraChip is a trademark of OmniVision Technologies, Inc. Wavefront Coded is a registered trademark of CDM Optics, Inc. and Wavefront Coding is a trademark of CDM Optics, Inc.