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November 29, 2005 - Agilent Technologies announced a new image pipe processor for camera phones yesterday, giving dedicated point-and-shoot digital cameras another nudge towards eventual obsolescence. According to a press release, the image pipe permits image capture in "all lighting conditions" and offers solid color reproduction no matter the lighting type—along with the ability to compensate for over- or underexposed images. The image pipe, which is an image signal processor (ISP), is an integrated part of Agilent’s newly developed system-on-chip (SOC) sensors. These are a type of CMOS chip, which Agilent says offer image quality and brightness on par with CCDs.
"Agilent's image pipe raises the bar with a streamlined, low-power ISP designed to produce sharper, more vivid images than past camera phones and rivals those from good digital still cameras," said Feisal Mosleh, Agilent's Semiconductor Products Group’s director of Mobile Imaging Marketing. "Until now, no camera phone ISP has been able to behave so much like its bigger sibling, the digital still camera ISP."
Though Agilent is fuzzy about how exactly their ISP’s performance has been accomplished and only says that it is tightly coupled with the CMOS sensor, they are more than happy to explain what it does. The image pipe offers a range of functions; it includes anti-vignetting correction, an automatic illuminant detector that improves automatic white balance, flexible exposure settings, adaptive tome mapping to provide dynamic range expansion, color noise suppression, and other features, including a special effects generator with over 20 special effects.
The image pipe will be incorporated into Agilent’s megapixel and multi-megapixel SOC sensors in the beginning of 2006.