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The real reason camera phones are useless, Anthony Kongats says, is that they don't have the power to light up the scene if it's dim.

"Our goal is to be one of the enabling solutions to turn a useless camera in a phone into a useful one, that the average punter won't have a disappointing experience with," he said, announcing BriteFlash today.

Cap-XX beforeYou can call his solution "nanotechnology" if you like.

Kongats runs a super-capacitor company. A capacity is not a battery, but it can store enormous amounts of power, and - this is the killer - can deliver it incredibly fast. "It's the advantage of physics over chemistry," is the way the Australian founder of Cap-XX puts it.

The company has been selling its compact power-storage devices for some time, and claims to have a world-leading position, selling a couple of million dollars worth of these tiny components a year, with sales growing fast. Now, it sees a new opportunity.

"If you've got a camera phone, you need more flash than it can give you," he said, demonstrating his technology in London today.

What he did, was to pull apart a Nokia 6680 phone - a Series 60 smartphone with a good camera, and stick two high capacity components behind the motherboard. You can't tell which cameraphone has been modified after this; but you can easily tell the difference when you take a picture in the dark.

Cap-XX afterWhere a normal LED flash in a typical Nokia smartphone delivers 1W for 160 milliseconds, the modified Cap-XX version - without any change in the software - ups this to 15W. "The typical lithium-ion battery can't deliver the power required to get those LEDs up to full intensity," said Kongats, attempting to blind your reporter by pointing the enhanced version at our face. The difference is blindingly obvious.

"In this business," explained Kongats, "everyone knows that physics is good for you, and chemistry is bad; inherently, chemical bonds (batteries) store more energy than physical separation (capacitors). But chemical bonds, because they involve liquids and gases, are slower in terms of response."

The aim is not only to get higher brightness in the flash, but also, to cut the exposure time. "We want to get the exposures down from 160 milliseconds to 35 milliseconds," he says. "To do that, we need to work with a mobile phone partner to re-write the camera software - but even the quick and dirty fix we're demonstrating makes our point, don't you think?"

Before and after pix confirm that yes, it makes a difference. It adds around $5 to the cost of the bill of materials, but if people actually use their cameras and transmit the pictures, the operators will be more than satisfied.

See Cap-XX for details

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