Tessera’s DigitalOptics subsidiary today announced that they have struck a deal with with Lite-On to produce mems|cam modules.
DigitalOptics says that mems|cam increases the smartphone focus shutter speed by 7X, using 100X less power, with up to 50% increased quality compared to today’s, VCM (Voice Coil Motor)-based focal mechanisms. This functionality could be huge, given the value consumers place on the quality of their smartphone’s digital camera experience. From my point of view, mems|cam technology has the potential to eliminate out of focus pictures, because a smartphone with mems|cam could potentially take multiple pictures at the same time at different focal lengths. The improved quality and lower power is just an extra added bonus. I wrote a lot about the mems cam technology here.
The Lite-On agreement is significant on two vectors. First, its a positive sign of execution of DigitalOptics new strategy which is to partner on camera module production. Secondly it demonstrates their focus on China, where Lite-On is the #1 market share leader in camera modules. Lite-On is not only the largest camera module supplier in China, but is ranked #3 globally, supplying to many MNCs and Chinese-based handset makers such as Sony, Nokia, Huawei, ZTE , Oppo, BBK, and TCL. While Oppo, BBK, or TCL aren’t household names in the U.S., they are top 10 in the China market, which is very different from the U.S.
This announcement is a very good sign for Tessera and now the next step is a smartphone vendor announcement. I doubt Lite-On would sign up for production if that weren’t the case, but that’s only my opinion.