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Tiny motor startup ready for its close-up

Tiny motors like this may soon be driving zoom and autofocus lenses in mobilephones. Miniswys SA

Mobile phone cameras are notorious for taking bad pictures, lacking auto-focus lenses and zooms.

This content was published on September 13, 2004 - 20:19

But a joint venture between a Swiss startup, Miniwys, and an unnamed East Asian lens manufacturer could see new mini-motors driving zoom lenses.

Biel-based Miniswys has just spun out of Creaholic, the engineering firm founded by one of the inventors of the Swatch watch, with the help of several undisclosed private investors who are backing the startup company until it achieves sales and growth.

The motors the firm makes are truly tiny. They are flat and, like a computer chip, they are wired into a printed circuit board. This makes them a lot easier to integrate into the hardware inside a consumer electronics device.

Competition

Unlike traditional motors, these produce no magnetic fields, so they can be placed inside mobile phones, for example, without creating interference with radio waves.

They can also be positioned close together when more power is required.

Several micro motor firms around the world have raised venture capital in the past several months, including Elliptec in Germany and Nanomuscle in the US.

But Miniswys says its products outperform even these cutting edge devices. "Ours require less power, last longer, and can be reproduced cheaply," according to the company.

by Valerie Thompson

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