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Silicon Film's EFS-1 may become a reality

Jan 7, 2000 at 04:00 GMT

A piece of technology which has taunted traditional 35mm SLR owners for a long time was the promise of a "digital film" insert for their camera. After a name change and over 18 months Silicon Film have announced that their CMOS digital film with 64MB of RAM will become a reality in this first half of this year. Priced at less than $800 but with a 2.8 focal length multiplier and only compatible with certain cameras...

(Older article on Silicon Film can be found here)

IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 6, 2000--Silicon Film Technologies Inc. today announced its Electronic Film System (EFS(TM)) line of digital image capture products will be manufactured by Express Manufacturing Inc. (``EMI''), a full-service electronic manufacturing services (EMS) supplier of turnkey contract electronics manufacturing and engineering services.

EMI's OEM customers include leaders in fast-growth communications, computers, medical and consumer markets whose needs for innovation, time-to-market, product miniaturization and cost reduction are paramount. These customers include Xerox Digital Imaging, PairGain Technologies, Lantronix, and Kingston Technology. Silicon Film's first generation EFS system, called EFS-1, is designed to provide a convenient and affordable way for owners of traditional 35mm SLR film cameras to participate in the explosive growth of digital photography.

EFS-1 consists of the (e)film(TM) Cartridge, a self-contained digital imaging module that fits in a standard film compartment; the (e)port(TM) Carrier, which uploads the images to a computer, and the (e)box(TM) Storage module, which stores hundreds of images for future upload. Together, these components are designed to allow users to enjoy all the features and functions of their SLR camera system while capturing digital pictures.

The EFS-1, which will be available to the public in the first half of calendar 2000, combines a CMOS image sensor with miniaturized control and processing electronics, 64 MB of memory and two batteries. Innovative packaging is used to permit the entire assembly to fit into the space occupied by a standard 35mm film canister. Initial versions of the EFS are designed to fit in specific camera bodies.

``The beauty of our technology is that we are not trying to replace traditional film -- we are complementing it,'' said Douglas E. Howe, Silicon Film's chief marketing officer. ``With EFS-1, users will have the capability of switching back and forth between film and high-quality digital imaging. We expect the learning curve to be fast because photographers will be using their own camera systems.''

``By proactively addressing new waves of outsourcing opportunities presented by portable electronics manufacturers, EMI is investing in advanced manufacturing and testing capabilities,'' said C.P. Chin, president of EMI. ``This relationship with Silicon Film will require us to combine innovation with advanced manufacturing abilities, building a basis for value and business growth for both companies.''

``We are pleased to enter into a relationship with EMI to manufacture our first products,'' said Robert I. Webber, Silicon Film's president and chief executive officer. ``The contract manufacture relationship provides Silicon Film with several advantages. First, we benefit from 'virtual' manufacturing, avoiding significant plant and equipment costs. Second, we leverage our partner's buying power to reduce component costs. Third, we can access our partner's manufacturing technology and production capacity. Fourth, we are able to keep some work-in-process inventory off our balance sheet until production is complete.''

Webber added that finding the right manufacturing partner was a key step in commercialization of the EFS technology. ``EMI already has extensive experience with the circuit board assembly and manufacturing requirements of our pre-production units. We are fortunate to have found such a highly qualified and reputable manufacturer as EMI so close to us,'' he said.

Headquartered in Santa Ana, Calif., privately held EMI is the largest contract manufacturer in Southern California, with more than 1,000 employees and five manufacturing facilities in Orange County, four of which are ISO-9002 certified. The company provides a broad range of value added manufacturing services including board layout design engineering, prototype-to-high volume production and over 17 high-speed FUJI continuous-flow state-of-the-art SMT lines.

The EFS products will initially be manufactured in EMI's Santa Ana plant. EMI is located on the Internet at www.eminc.com. Founded in 1998, Silicon Film Technologies Inc. is the developer of the Electronic Film System, a system of hardware and software components designed to permit a conventional film camera to take digital photos without camera modifications.

The company has pioneered advanced research and development in CMOS sensor implementation and micro-miniaturization of imager packaging, and holds patents on many aspects of the technology. Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Silicon Film Technologies Inc. is a subsidiary of Irvine Sensors Corp. (Nasdaq:IRSN - news).

For more information, please visit www.siliconfilm.com.