Saygus hopes to make video calls on mobile phones mainstream with a new handset it claims provides 'low-cost, low-bandwidth and low-power, two-way videos' for the first time.

On show at CES, Saygus' VPhone won the Best of Innovations award in the wireless handsets category at the 2010 Design and Engineering Awards for its approach to video calls.

Saygus' CEO Chad Sayers promised that the VPhone would deliver two-way video calls at between 24 and 30 frames per second, although he was unable to demonstrate the device in action at Tuesday's CES Unveiled press-preview event. The video-calling functionality is expected to be demoed for the first time on Friday.

Saygus VPhone

While new to the US market, video calls via mobile phones have been available in the UK for years, but have failed to take off. Sayers said consumers have previously found video calls too expensive, and the quality of the service has also suffered.

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"The difference with this is that we won't drop the video call quality when users move around any more than you drop a voice call," said Sayers. "This will work even when you've got only one bar of service because of the low bandwidth requirements."

Saygus worked with a manufacturing partner in China on the design of the VPhone, which is a Google Android handset with a 3.5in screen and a rear-facing camera that's designed to make video calls easier.

The VPhone is expected to become available in the US this year via Verizon, and Sayers hopes to launch the technology in Europe at a later date - either as a standalone phone, or more likely by licensing the software behind the video-calling service to phone makers and operators.