Image software firm eyes Irish R&D centre

8 Oct 2007

FotoNation, an Irish company that develops advanced image processing software for digital cameras, has revealed plans to establish an additional research centre in Ireland.

The company currently employs 80 people, with 32 staff located in Galway where FotoNation maintains a research and development facility.

“The market is opening up, we have ideas and good products. We now want to create a larger research centre – in Ireland, ideally – to meet this demand,” said FotoNation’s managing director Shane Fanning.

Discussions about setting up the centre are already taking place. “We’re working very closely with the IDA and with a number of the universities to progress it. We’d ideally like to see it start up in the spring of next year,” Fanning added.

FotoNation originally grew out of a project between one of the company’s founders Eran Steinberg and researchers based at NUI Galway. Retaining a third-level link is the preferred option, Fanning said, but a final site for the new centre has yet to be decided.

“In the short term we would locate it next to one of the universities,” he said. “In the longer term we’d like to see this develop into a competence centre for imaging that can be re-used in many other vertical market segments.”

FotoNation says it invests extensively in pure research, with 25pc of all staff working in this area.

The company’s technology is designed to help people take better pictures with their digital cameras or camera phones by reducing red eye effects.

FotoNation has developed motion detection and correction software that can eliminate camera shake, as well as an application that can track a person’s face within a larger photo image.

Many of the leading companies in the industry, including Canon, HP, Kodak,
Microsoft, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Samsung, Sanyo and Sony, use FotoNation software in their products.

The company’s red eye removal software is found in close to 70pc of digital cameras and 21 out of 48 new models of compact point and shoot digital cameras launched this year are supplied with FotoNation’s FaceTracker technology.

By Gordon Smith