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Photobit Designs Disposable Camera That Fits in a Pill

May 29, 2000|KAREN KAPLAN

Photobit, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory spinoff in Pasadena that has been pioneering camera-on-a-chip technology for six years, said last week that it has designed a new image sensor small enough to be ingested in a pill. An Israeli company called Given Imaging is planning to market the disposable capsule-cameras, though Photobit officials did not know details of the company's plans.

The sensor measures a mere 11 millimeters by 30 millimeters and runs on less than 3 milliwatts of power. As it passes through a patient's stomach and small bowel, it beams images to an antenna array attached to the patient. A wireless recorder worn on a belt around the patient's waist records the signals transmitted to the array, which are converted into video by a computer equipped with Given Imaging software.

Photobit's CMOS image sensors, which are manufactured using standard computer chip-making technology, are also used in PC cameras, video cell phones, hand-held scanners and even children's toys. The privately held company said it had about $20 million in revenue last year.

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