Are Conventional Sensors' Days Numbered?

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Are Conventional Sensors' Days Numbered?

Someday soon, digital camera makers may abandon conventional sensors.

At least, that's what Dutch researchers are suggesting, now that they've invented "gigavision." Well, maybe invented isn't quite the right word...

You see, techies have long known that memory chips are sensitive to light. That's why they're made with covers. What the Dutch scientists did was take the cover off and carefully focus light onto the memory chip. Each tiny cell within the chip recorded either a light or dark value. This, they say, is the first step towards inexpensive sensor technology.

According to "NewScientist" magazine, the memory chips can't record grayscale values, as CMOS and CCD sensors do. But the cells on memory chips are so tiny, that there are 100 cells for evey pixel on a traditional sensor. Using a software algorythm, developers hope to create grayscale values by reading across 100 cells at a time.

The gigavision chips have both advantages and disadvantages. They read bright light and dark shadow better than conventional sensors. But so many tiny cells can create a lot of "noise" in the final images.

This technology is new, and work has been progressing quickly. For camera users, this is good news. Memory chips are dirt cheap compared to conventional sensors. That means we could be paying a lot less for digital cameras in the next few years.



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