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Fotonation speeds up face recognition

October 16, 2007, Burlingame, CA — FotoNation (www.fotonation.com), a leading provider of embedded imaging solutions for the imaging industry, announced today “FastTrack IPC” (IP-Core) hardware acceleration technology that improves Face-Tracking quality and performance up to 400% in digital cameras and camera phones. Especially important for camera phones, FastTrack IPC provides significant performance improvements directly in the camera’s chipset, optimizing focus, exposure, and color balance with FotoNation’s self-calibrating system for difficult lighting conditions. The technology delivers faster and better image quality by integrating location and exposure information of human faces within the camera’s exposure feedback system.

Developed by FotoNation’s Image-HW Division located in Brasov, Romania and FotoNation’s Embedded Imaging Firmware Group in Galway, Ireland, FastTrack IPC’s image processing IC hardware core was designed for easy integration into existing camera chipset solutions. “By implementing the core functions of FotoNation’s algorithms into hardware, we are able to boost performance while reducing the computational and power demands on the baseband processors of camera phones and digital still cameras. With FastTrack IPC, we are providing better image quality and a prolonged battery life, which are always important in the design of handheld electronic products, such as cameras and camera phones,” said Eran Steinberg, CEO of FotoNation Inc.

“FotoNation’s strength is in providing a continuum of solutions from pure firmware to total hardware and everything in between. Our hardware assisted face-tracking technology is the best of both worlds: the flexibility of a firmware solution with the performance of hardware components,” Steinberg continued.

FastTrack IPC is targeted to imaging chipset manufacturers, mobile phone OEMs and ODMs, and digital camera manufacturers. Implementation of the technology is offered in FPGA, VHDL or Net List, depending on customer needs. Through the addition of FastTrack IPC hardware acceleration, FotoNation’s already speedy FaceTracker technology is boosted an additional 3-4 times the speed of the company’s software-only solution. FastTrack IPC is offered with a low gate count (as low as 120K system gates).

Editor’s comment: apart form its obvious military and police/government security uses which have been well documented and should scare any law-non-abiding citizen just a little more than the rest of us, this is an example of the kind of technology Sony is already adding to consumer cameras and may add to DSLRs in future. Fotonation’s chipset would be something that could be tacked on to the BIONZ processor just as Apical’s IRIDIX chipset (which does Dynamic Range Optimisation, DRO, DRO+, DRO Advanced) is bought in from Apical Ltd.

A demonstration is available immediately upon request. For more information, see www.fotonation.com.


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