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Astri Licenses Camera Phone Tech
Oct 2010
HONG KONG, Oct. 20, 2010 — The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (Astri) has formally licensed its antishaking compact camera module technologies to AP Photonics Ltd. (APP), a newly established company tapping into the global camera phone market.

Founded as a subsidiary of Automated Precision Inc., APP will be a vehicle for new consumer electronics business and related R&D activities targeting the global market. With its strong commitment in commercializing the ASTRI technologies, APP has set up its headquarters in the Hong Kong Science Park in proximity to the research institute, allowing further collaboration in R&D.

At a formal signing ceremony, the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute formally licensed antishaking technologies for compact cameras to AP Photonics Ltd.

The agreement was signed by Dr. Cheung Nim-kwan, Astri’s chief executive officer and Dr. Kam Lau, founder and chairman of APP, and witnessed by Janet W.C. Wong, commissioner for innovation and technology and Dr. Patrick Wang Shui-chung, chairman of the board of Astri.

Dr. Cheung was delighted to see that another part of Astri’s technology was moving from R&D to industry: “The signing of this licensing agreement is recognition of Hong Kong’s competitiveness in technology-related industries. I am confident that the commercialization of Astri’s intellectual properties by APP will not only attract further investments in related industry sectors, but also significantly enhance Hong Kong as a spawning ground for technology.”

The agreement involves eight patents developed by Astri’s specialists in the last three years. They allow antishaking and autofocusing functions to be combined into a single compact module, which will enable phone cameras to produce clear images under poor lighting and shaky conditions. With an 8.5 × 8.5 × 4.8-mm actuator, the module is the first and the most compact of its kind, according to the company.

Addressing the audience at the signing ceremony, Dr. Lau said, “Astri has proven its credentials as an industry leader with a strong R&D team.” By signing the agreement, Dr. Lau saw an enormous market opportunity for his new business. “To me, Astri’s compact antishaking technology is a ‘hidden gem’ for this market. The high demand for digital cameras translates into a projected global market size of 1.2 billion camera phones in 2013. As the conventional antishaking components used in digital still cameras are too large to be applied to phone cameras, Astri’s innovative, high-quality module becomes very attractive to top-tier mobile phone producers,” he said.

Dr. Lau, an alumnus of the Hong Kong Polytechnic (the forerunner of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University), has spent more than 30 years in the US and is now an established US entrepreneur. He obtained his bachelor and PhD degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and had served as a research engineer in National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) in the US.

Hong Kong will benefit from the operation of APP not only from possible tax revenue, but also from its experience in technology commercialization. APP is expected to encourage entrepreneurial endeavors in the local high-tech industry. Furthermore, APP plans to employ 40 to 50 staff in the Hong Kong office within the next five years, offering technological development and training to talents in Hong Kong.

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