Varioptic and Seiko to Bring Liquid Lenses to Cellphones, Finally

Varioptic has been talking about bringing liquid lenses to cellphones since 2005, but now they have teamed up with Seiko and the watery dreams look to be coming alive. Liquid lenses have the added benefit of being speedier and less power hungry than conventional lenses, but the release of Varioptic's pioneering technology for cellphones has been in the pipe lines for almost two years. Thankfully, Seiko has stepped up to the mark, coining a mass production date of Q3, 2008. The initial models that will be created are the Arctic 314 and Arctic 416, which rate 5 mega pixels in 0.33-inch and 0.25-inch modules. The faster lenses should see an increase in video capture quality and battery life for cellphones adopting the new standard, which can only be a good thing. Jump for the press release.

Seiko Press Release

Barcelona, Spain — 11th Fehttp://blogs.gawker.com/mt.cgi?__mode=view&_type=entry&blog_id=4#bruary 2008 - Seiko Instruments Inc. (SII), (Japan) and Varioptic Lyon (France) — Varioptic and SII announced today the signature of a cooperation agreement to develop, manufacture and market Varioptic's Liquid Lens products. The aim of this agreement is to achieve a significant penetration with Liquid Lens products in the fast growing camera module market and other large volume end equipment markets such as barcodes and webcams.

SII will use its manufacturing expertise as the number one supplier of Backup button battery and Capacitor to Cellular phone companies to produce Liquid Lens units in very high volume with aggressive cost reduction to ensure liquid lens products maintain their cost advantage for auto-focus.

SII production capacity plan is expected to reach 0.5 million units per month by 3Q of 2008 and will expand mass production capacity according to market needs.
This agreement builds on an existing production capacity for Arctic 314 and Arctic 416 liquid lenses designed for 5—Megapixel, 1/3" and 1/4'' format camera modules.

Varioptic will continue to develop the liquid lens technology and to ensure the system wide competitiveness of the Liquid Lens products. Varioptic's liquid lens feature many advantages over competing technologies in terms of cost, size, robustness, power consumption, silent operation and speed. These advantages position liquid lenses particularly well for the emerging camcorder phone market where continuous auto-focus for video is a "must-have" feature.

Commenting on this agreement, Christian Dupont, CEO of Varioptic said: "We are delighted to have signed this agreement with SII. SII's unique position as the number one Backup button battery and Capacitor supplier to the leaders in the cellular phone market meets perfectly Varioptic's objective to become the leading supplier of high quality image solutions for mobile devices. SII's proven expertise in the production of low cost miniature mechanical assemblies make them an ideal partner of Varioptic."

Takeshi Sasaki, General Manager of Micro Energy Division of Seiko Instruments Inc. (SII), added: "We look forward to working with Varioptic. Varioptic's Liquid Lenses present significant advantages for the miniature camera phone industry and other large volume end equipment applications, resulting in higher yields and reduced production costs in line with our strategy to provide quality and innovative products.''

About Seiko Instruments

Seiko Instruments Inc. (SII) was established in 1937 as a key watch manufacturing company for the Seiko Group. Based on its sophisticated micromechatronics and nanotechnology techniques developed through decades of experience in precision machinery manufacturing and low-power consumption technologies, the company provides micromechatronic products and services including watch and HDD components; semiconductors, FPD and electronic devices; network solutions systems; nanotechnology equipment; scientific instruments; and large-format inkjet printers. http://www.sii.co.jp.

About Varioptic

Varioptic develops and manufactures auto focus liquid lenses for the camera phone industry. Liquid lenses feature a number of advantages over competing technologies critical for camera-phone applications such as video auto-focus and bar-code reading. These include fast and close response, very low power consumption, low cost and size, good for millions of cycles, and with no moving parts liquid lenses are extremely robust. Varioptic is located in France with a subsidiary in Taiwan and representation in China, Japan, Korea, and USA. For more information, visit www.varioptic.com.

[Advanced Imaging via Phone Scoop ]