Phones and tablets are getting so thin these days we’ve seen several phones that have needed dedicated camera humps in their design, such as the Droid X, or the G2x. Someone over in OmniVision, a digital imaging company based in California, must not be a fan of that extra width. Today they’ve announced a brand new camera that is cutting the height of the current leader by 20%

The new camera, dubbed the OV5690, is 5 MP and comes with all the shiny bells and whistles you’d expect out of a standard phone camera, including support for 1080p recording and digital zoom. At 5mm, (or less than 0.2″ for the less metrically inclined) this camera is just over half the height of the ultra thin phones coming out like the Samsung Galaxy S II. When you consider that this is a decrease of just over a millimeter it may not sound like much, but when OEMs are boasting over FRACTIONS of millimeters this could be big news in the race to see who can get me a phone that will fit in my wallet first.

Press release follows:

SANTA CLARA, Calif., — May 18, 2011 — OmniVision Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ: OVTI), a leading developer of advanced digital imaging solutions, today introduced the OV5690, the first 5- megapixel image sensor to use OmniVision’s proprietary OmniBSI-2 pixel architecture. The new 1.4- micron backside illumination pixel allows for a full five megapixels in a 1⁄4-inch optical format, and combines best-in-class image quality with a 20 percent reduction in camera module height, making it an effective solution for slimmer mobile handsets, smart phones and tablet computers.

“With industry sources placing 5-megapixel CMOS image sensors at more than 15 percent of the overall sensor market today, we view 5-megapixel sensors as occupying as a sweet spot in the market,” said Per Rosdahl, product marketing manager at OmniVision. “Some industry analysts believe that market share may exceed 30 percent by 20141 driven by the demand for higher performance resolution and increasingly slim mobile handsets, smart phone and tablet designs. With the OV5690 CameraChipTM, OmniVision brings a highly competitive, no-compromise solution to market, combining best-in-class performance while enabling extremely thin building height.”

Based on OmniVision’s efficient second-generation OmniBSI-2 technology, the OV5690 delivers advanced features including 1080p high definition (HD) video recording at 30 frames per second, an integrated scaler, and 2 x 2 binning functionality with re-sampling filter. The scaler enables electronic image stabilization, while maintaining full field of view in 720p and 1080p HD video modes, and allows for HD video with digital video zoom functionality. The OV5690’s post-binning re-sampling filter minimizes spatial artifacts and removes image artifacts around edges, producing clean, crisp color images for 720p/60 HD video in binning mode.

The sensor features a standard 2-lane (1 Gbps/lane) MIPI/LVDS interface, and fits into the industry standard 8.5 x 8.5 mm module size with a z-height below 5 mm, or approximately 20 percent lower than existing industry-leading 1/3.2-inch 5-megapixel image sensors.

The OV5690 is currently being sampled by key customers and mass production is expected to begin in the second half of 2011.