Winning zoom

That problem might soon become a thing of the past.

Singapore start-up company DynaOptics has developed a revolutionary technology that integrates optical zoom into smartphones.

This allows your phone to capture sharp pictures even when zoomed in.

The technology bagged the Top Pitch prize at Techventure 2014, an Asian conference-exhibition that promotes Singapore-based technology start-ups to the global investment community and industry leaders.

The $50,000 cash prize was awarded by Infocomm Investments, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.

DynaOptics will use the money to fund day-to-day operations and development of their technology.

"This is the first time we made such a splash in Singapore," said CEO Chan Li Han, 35.

"We took part as we wanted to gain exposure for our technology and to meet potential investors in the region."

Miss Chan recalled getting frustrated by the poor quality of the camera zoom on her phone. She was at a concert last year when she wanted to snap a picture of the performer on stage.

"I could hardly make out who it was after I zoomed in, the picture was very pixelated," she said.

For her, this affirmed the importance of developing such a technology.


DynaOptics was founded in April 2012 by Miss Chan and Dr Kelvin Cheo, 37, who is also the chief technology officer of the company. The company started out with just the two of them, but it has now grown to a team of seven people.

Dr Cheo said: "Currently there isn't a solution for an optical zoom in phones, so we saw potential and a huge need in the market we would fill."

Most smartphones use digital zoom, which enlarges the image area at the centre of the frame, reducing the image resolution and causes pixilation.

Optical zoom produces pictures with a better quality, but conventional setups can be bulky as they move in and out to zoom.

But the design from DynaOptics integrates optical zoom into smartphones and works by sliding left and right, without the need for an external attachment.

DynaOptics has been surprised by the reception it has received. It has been featured on technology websites such as PCWorld and PetaPixel.

Miss Chan said: "The market is so hot and the technology is so cool, that's why it has garnered such a tremendous response from the ground."

DynaOptics has scheduled the release of its engineering samples in the first quarter of next year.

It hopes to see phones with its lenses on sale in 2016.

Photography enthusiast Nicole Wong, 19, is excited over the DynaOptics' lens.

She said: "This will make capturing photos on my phone a better experience. It'll be interesting to see such technology since it's the first of its kind."

This article was first published on Oct 29, 2014.
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