Bob Free - News Article 19990414

May 14 - 32MB SmartMedia ships, and more!

By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource

(Friday, May 14, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)

- Delkin ships 32MB SmartMedia! Delkin Devices Inc. has today announced shipment of its first 32MB SmartMedia cards. The cards, based on Samsung flash technologyl, are available to OEMs at a cost just above $80 each, and should reach consumers at a street price of around $150. Full production should commence in June.

- Kodak receives BBBOnline seal! Kodak's online store, part of the website, has today received the Better Business Bureau's BBBOnline privacy seal. The seal is granted to companies that, according to the BBB, "tell consumers what information is collected and what the company does with that information, show how the company complies with its stated privacy policy, and agree to participate in a dispute resolution system that sets the standard for resolving consumer concerns over privacy."

- Kopin introduces CyberDisplay! Thanks to Steve's Digicams for catching this one, which we missed - Kopin Corporation has announced its CyberDisplay 640C, the world's smallest color VGA LCD display. The unit has a diagonal size of 0.38", 8-bit color, and power consumption of only 30mW. Steve correctly points out that this unit is realistically the future of digital cameras - the drastically reduced power consumption in comparison with conventional digicam LCDs will mean far greater battery life. Equally, this unit can replace both the optical and conventional LCD viewfinders, taking up very little space and allowing full control of the camera without taking your eye away from the viewfinder. Along with the size decrease offered by the absence of a large LCD screen, digital cameras using this display can, thanks again to the reduced power consumption, get away with using smaller batteries, reducing overall camera size and weight still further. Personally, I can't wait to see this sort of screen becoming widespread in our digital cameras, offering truly pocketable units that have battery lives easily comparable to conventional film cameras...Thanks to Steve's Digicams!

- Intel and Kodak make digital film cartridge! Just to prove he's really on the ball, Steve also caught an item in New Scientist magazine regarding a digital film cartridge similar to Imagek's forthcoming device, based on patents belonging to computer giant Intel. If you're not familiar with the concept, essentially a small package shaped to fit inside a conventional camera chassis (where the 35mm film would normally go) contains a CCD, memory and supporting circuitry, allowing the user to simply slot the unit into their existing camera rather than purchasing an entirely new camera. Advantages to this method are that the user can swap back and forth between digital and conventional film, and can retain their existing camera, lenses, filters, etc. - which they are both familiar with, and have probably invested a significant sum of money in. The disadvantage is that thus far, these units don't provide for the user to see their images immediately that they're taken, allowing for errors to be spotted and the shot to be retaken - something that is often cited as one of the main reasons of purchasing a digital camera. No details are given of the planned device, which would be a cooperation between Kodak and Intel, but another disadvantage which Imagek's unit suffers from which hopefully the Kodak/Intel effort will avoid is an absence of removeable memory. With Imagek's device, once you have filled the (small) memory, you either stop to transfer the images to a PC, or you can take no further photos on it. This approach could make or break the idea, as it forces users to have a computer at hand or purchase multiple digital "films" so that they can take more pictures - something which at the current predicted price they are unlikely to do. What path Intel and Kodak will take with this problem awaits to be seen...Thanks again to Steve's Digicams for this and the previous item!

- European digicam/scanner market growing! A report today from InfoTrends Research Group finds that the combined market for digital cameras and scanners in Europe will grow 43% in 1999, reaching over 9 million units and by 2003 will collect $2.9 billion in revenues. Currently, scanner shipments acount for 90% of total shipments, but IRG sees this falling to 80%, with digital cameras taking the remaining 20% share by 2003. Last year, the scanner market in Europe doubled, and after taking into account this year's expected 50% increase, should reach almost 8 million units shipped this year and $1.6 billion in revenues by 2003. Digital cameras, in comparison, should have 900,000 shipments this year and $1.3 billion in revenues by 2003.

- PhotoLoft announces appointment! Online photo sharing company has announced the appointment of a new Vice President of Engineering, in an email we received from them yesterday. Robert Free joins the company fromfrom Integrated Software and Devices Corp., where he was Director of Engineering of the Graphics Software Group. Prior to this, Free was architect, engineering manager and an award-winning designer for 3D Web Products at Live Picture. Free replaces Co-founder and Vice President Chris McConn, who has been named Chief Technology Officer.