FOVEON THE COMPANY
FOVEON SENSORS
Foveon, Inc., is the company that makes the Foveon X3 sensor, which captures images in digital single-lens reflex cameras such as the Sigma Corporation SD9, SD10, SD14 and SD15 as well as in the compacts DP1, DP2 and Polaroid X530.

The company, founded in 1997 by Carver Mead, Richard Lyon, Richard B. Merrill, Richard Turner, and others, was a spin-off of National Semiconductor and Synaptics. The founding directors were: Federico Faggin (president and CEO of Synaptics), Brian Halla (chairman, president/CEO of National Semiconductor), Dick Sanquini (VP of National Semiconductor). It is based in Santa Clara, California. Foveon was initially known for their high-end digital portrait camera systems built around a color-separation beam-splitter prism assembly. Both the prism system and the X3 technology derive their benefit from using all the light and sensing all colors at all locations.

Foveon, Inc. was previously known as Foveonics. The name is derived from the fovea of the human eye, which enables sharp imaging while reading or watching television.

George Gilder has written The Silicon Eye, which tells the story of Foveon and of Carver Mead and the other founders. Foveon had no public comment on the book which I have seen available for as little as $0.01 from amazon.com.

On 11 November 2008, when Federico Faggin was the CEO, all shares of Foveon stock were acquired by Sigma Corporation. The company continues today in a new location as a wholly owned portion of Sigma.

Technology insider George Gilder delivers a "compelling" (Wired) look under the hood at a genius-fueled startup.
Thanks to the digital technology revolution, cameras are everywhere—PDAs, phones, anywhere you can put an imaging chip and a lens. Battling to usurp this two-billion-dollar market is a Silicon Valley company, Foveon, whose technology not only produces a superior image but also may become the eye in artificially intelligent machines. Behind Foveon are two legendary figures who made the personal computer possible: Carver Mead of Caltech, one of the founding fathers of information technology, and Federico Faggin, inventor of the CPU—the chip that runs every computer.

George Gilder has covered the wizards of high tech for twenty-five years and has an insider's knowledge of Silicon Valley and the unpredictable mix of genius, drive, and luck that can turn a startup into a Fortune 500 company. The Silicon Eye is a rollicking narrative of some of the smartest—and most colorful—people on earth and their race to transform an entire industry. 13 illustrations
By David S. Hirschman on August 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In "The Silicon Eye" George Gilder relates another colorful story of a significant technology breakthrough, namely, a camera imaging chip that is greatly superior to everything else out there. Standard imagers work by separating the three primary colors, throwing away 2/3 of the color information at each point in the visual field, and must use software processing to interpolate the missing data. The Foveon chip is a major advancement because it can collect 100% of the color information at each point using a single-chip solution that will provide smaller and cheaper imaging that is of both higher quality and lower power consumption. The photo samples on Foveon's web site are truly astounding.

But Gilder's book over-hypes the significance of the technology. It will not "Make All Current Computers, Cameras, and Cell Phones Obsolete." Cameras, yes. And cell phones and computers will benefit greatly from the smaller, lighter, cheaper, lower power consumption, and higher image quality aspects of the Foveon chip. But the Foveon chip is not a "Silicon Eye" as Gilder suggests. The chip does not "see" the way a biological eye does - it merely records images as all cameras do. The story of Foveon's initial forays into AI and producing silicon chips that mimic brain functions is fascinating, but as Gilder describes, Foveon finally had to abandon such speculative research in favor of a viable commercial product.

By
Thomas H. Burroughes on January 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
I got a copy of this book as I have been a fan of Gilder's previous books on supply-side economics in the 1980s and since. It was interesting to read about how visual imaging technologies have developed. We take for granted such amazing technologies such as digital cameras and so on. I am afraid that for all Gilder's skills as a writer, I found some of the details of how this material works hard to follow. Specialists might find it interesting, but I struggled with it.

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