Today’s blog deals with an adjacent market for the ArcticLink III (AL III), digital cameras, and specifically the embedded display.
As I start, I should be clear and say that we are not talking about putting VEE and DPO into the image capture (camera) path. As many of you know, we license the core of VEE technology, called iridix, from a company called Apical. iridix was originally invented as an image improvement algorithm for cameras, and Apical has had significant success deploying it to mainstream digital still camera (DSC) and DLSR makers. As with smartphones and tablets (which, again, remain our two primary AL III focus markets), the opportunity for QuickLogic is in the display path. Here’s why…
VEE can provide a real advantage in DSLR’s and DSCs’ for display viewability. For the most part, users have abandoned the time-honored viewfinder, and instead rely on the display to properly frame and preview the image. Those display’s face the same usability that mobile phone and tablet displays do, one of the primary being sunlight viewability. One issue I’ve faced with my camera is not quite knowing what I captured when I shoot outside during the day – better viewability on the display would greatly help this not just for me, but for everyone. The photographer gains a great user experience, key to the user experience of any consumer electronic.
DPO’s benefits are relevant to cameras as well. Reduction of system power consumption is important in any consumer device, and probably more important to the consumer when the device runs on batteries you have to purchase new rather than a rechargeable battery that is embedded in your device.
Granted, some cameras do have embedded batteries, and many photographers do use rechargeable batteries. However, not having to do that charge as often is a distinct advantage, especially to people taking many shots in rapid or semi-rapid sequence.
Unlike smartphones and tablets, cameras generally don’t have a CPU/Apps processor, and instead have a DSP that acts as the brains of the camera. That DSP contains all the image processing and code, and outputs what is typically an RGB signal to the on-board display. In the past, most displays have been RGB on cameras. However…we believe that is changing.
The smartphone market is barreling towards the 700M per year unit mark, with almost 100% acceptance of MIPI-DSI and a commoditization of panels of 5.x” and less. Based on that, finding an RGB panel will be (a) not cost-effective, as it will be much cheaper to draft off smartphone volumes and (b) technically difficult, as DSC and DSLR volumes pale (and are shrinking) in comparison to mobile phone volume.
This likely brings DSC and DSLR makers to a point where their DSP will be outputting RGB and the display will be expecting MIPI-DSI–which is where a QuickLogic ArcticLink III VX5A2B slides right in, solves their bridging issue, and gives them the benefit of VEE and DPO. Or, should it be an extremely cost-conscious product, an ArcticLink III BX5A2B.
To be fair, a DSP can be changed to output MIPI-DSI, sure…but that adds significant cost and design time to the development process. Will it happen for most cameras eventually? Perhaps, and at that point, our AL III VX3 (MIPI to MIPI with VEE/DPO) still allows them the best of display enhancement and power savings. But until then, we believe that our AL III device family can provide a combination of needed requirements (bridging) with beneficial user experience technologies (VEE and DPO).