Micron Technology, Inc., has unveiled a prototype of the World’s first 8-megapixel CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) image sensor using a miniature 1.75 micron pixel design in a 1/2.5 inch optical format.
As well as being small enough to bring 3-megapixel performance to your camera equipped cell phone, the new sensor packs a secondary potential punch: speed. The inclusion of a faster processor enables the shooting of as many as 10 images per second at the full resolution, or 30 frames per second of 2-megapixel quality video, without the usual delays between images.
Although mass production of the chip itself isn’t expected until 2007, and consumer product 2008, I wouldn’t get too excited just yet anyway. As anyone who has more than a passing interest in photography will happily tell you, taking a good picture requires a lot more than just a big-pixel image sensor. The combination of light and lens is perhaps most important, and the chances of getting a really good lens into a really small cell phone anytime soon is doubtful to say the least. Of course, Micron argues that the speed and power of the new sensor enable the use of a smaller lens without compromising image resolution. I’m not knocking it, or Micron who have leveraged their position as one of the world's leading providers of advanced semiconductor solutions to drive this development. Anything that improves the awful quality, and I use that word with reservation, of cell phone photography has to be a good thing. I’m just not convinced that this is going to change the way that I use my cell phone.
I don’t want my phone to be my PDA, web browser, camera and camcorder. I just want to be able to make and take telephone calls anywhere I need to. Convergence and integration are good things for sure, but they are not the be all and end all of technological progress. What’s more, I certainly don’t want to pay extra for perceived functionality gains that are, in reality, nothing of the sort. Am I really alone in this view? Don’t all shout at once…