Digital camera expert elected Fellow of IEEE

27 Jan 2010

An NUI Galway-based engineer whose company’s inventions feature in 100 million digital cameras worldwide has been elected a Fellow of the prestigious Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Dr Peter Corcoran of NUI Galway is the only engineer currently based in Ireland to receive this honour and one of 10 Irish engineers ever to be recognised by the IEEE.

He joins 308 other engineering experts around the world in the Fellowship of the IEEE.

Another NUI Galway engineer, Prof Ger Hurley, was recognised in 2006 for his work in the field of power electronics.

A native of Dublin, Dr Corcoran has made significant contributions to digital-camera technology, both through his academic publications and through a technology company, FotoNation, which he co-founded with Eran Steinberg and Petronel Bigioi.

FotoNation became the market leader in automated red-eye removal and continues to develop and refine a range of OEM technologies for digital cameras. These technologies are used in more than 100 million digital cameras worldwide. 

Dr Corcoran was also a major contributor to a range of face-tracking and face-analysis techniques pioneered for digital cameras and camera phones by FotoNation in the period 2003-2008.

Again, these technologies have greatly enhanced today’s consumer digital cameras, enabling better quality images to be achieved in low-cost consumer products. Dr Corcoran’s research team from NUI Galway formed the original engineering team of the start-up company that became FotoNation. Almost all of these engineers are still working with the company today.

According to the IEEE: “The ability of a small, Galway-based, engineering company to compete with large multinational corporations in the development of leading-edge image processing algorithms is due in no small part to Dr Corcoran’s technical vision and knowledge of embedded systems and image-processing techniques.”

Research of Dr Peter Corcoran

More recently, Dr Corcoran’s research has explored methods for the encoding of digital content using personal biometric features. This approach offers a potential solution to the growing problems of piracy and illegal distribution of digital content, such as music and movies.

Dr Corcoran said: “The new challenge for electronic engineers such as myself now lies in the area of biometric features. Within a matter of years we can hope to have consumer devices that will ‘know’ their owners.

“These new ‘smart’ devices should solve many of the problems we have today with digital copyright and the piracy of movies and music,” Dr Corcoran said,.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Dr Peter Corcoran of NUI Galway has been elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years