It's one thing to invent a powerful technology but quite another to get that technology into products that click. SMaL Camera Technologies is one of the big players behind the push for tiny digital cameras. The company was founded by three MIT professors and a student. Rather than go it alone, SMaL has opted to sell its development kit to manufacturers such as Fujifilm and Logitech, who then come up with their own product design.
SMaL's not-manufactured-here strategy has resulted in the world's thinnest digital cameras: One model, the eyeplate by Fujifilm Axia, which is only available in Japan, measures 6 millimeters thick — about the same width as a stack of six business cards. Although the U.S. version, Logitech's Pocket Digital, requires 2 millimeters more than its ultra-svelte Japanese cousin, this sleek, brushed-metal beauty is still small enough to fit in your pocket. And its low-power design means long battery life, so you can take hundreds of pictures on a single charge.
SMaL has won numerous awards, including best of show in digital imaging at the 2001 International Consumer Electronics Show. But there may be such a thing as too thin: Unlike most digital cameras, this one lacks an LCD screen to instantly review pictures and delete those images in which you're not quite cute (or thin) enough.
The Pocket Digital retails for $129.95. Visit Logitech (www.logitech.com) and SMaL Camera Technologies (www.smalcamera.com) on the Web.
A version of this article appeared in the August 2002 issue of Fast Company magazine.