Chip shots

Since the '70s, camera makers and photography enthusiasts have dreamt of a 1-chip camera that does everything. Thanks to the efforts of 3 scientists from nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, this dream may soon be a reality.

The team, led by Eric R Fossum, is developing an "active pixel sensor" for smaller cheap cameras. The sensor rivals the charge-coupled device (CCD) -- an electronic image sensor that forms the heart of every fax machine and camcorder.

This device can be made on standard semiconductor production lines, and should cost much less than CCD. One chip can replace all the functions of multiple chips, from time circuits to zoom and anti-jitter controls, and uses 1/100th the power of a CCD-based system.

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