Philips Semiconductors' new chip technology will make it possible to manufacture video cameras and mobile phones the size of sugar cubes.

The technology, designed for use in video cameras, means a manufacturer can replace certain image sensors and have most of the remaining circuitry integrated onto the same chip. This eliminates several additional chips and results in an ultra-compact video camera that is less expensive and uses less power than current designs, according to Philips.

The innovation is called SeeMOS, it operates at 3.3 volts, as opposed to the 15 volts required by today's designs based on CCD (Charge Coupled Device) technology, according to Philips.

SeeMOS will allow manufacturers to make video cameras "no thicker than a pencil and about 1cm long", said Chris Schaeffer, Philips Semiconductors' project manager for New Technologies.

The ground-breaking technology opens the doors to a wide range of low-cost, high-volume applications, Schaeffer said. The miniature, low-power chips are ideal for handheld, battery-operated products - such as portable video-phones, he continued.

It's claimed that the new SeeMOS supports a resolution of 640-x-480 pixels.