Sunday, April 23, 2017

Image Sensor Reliability, Variations, and Drifts over Time

Albert Theuwissen has a unique experience with image sensor statistics and their parameters changing over time when his students run through the same devices characterization, course after course, year after year. So, he came up with a brilliant idea to present his knowledge in a report on CMOS sensors reproducibility, variability, and reliability. The first info about the report is expected to be available in a few weeks.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Strategy Analytics on ADAS Camera Market

Strategy Analytics presentation dated by Sept. 2016 forecasts a large growth for ADAS camera market:

Academic and University News

Prof. Shen Guozhen’s Group in Institute of Semiconductors, Chinese Academy of Sciences, with their collaborators in Hong Kong University of Science and Technology developed a flexible UV image sensor based on ZnO quantum dots (QDs) decorated ZTO nanowires (NWs). The device was fabricated on the flexible polyethylene terephthalate (PET) substrate, which displayed outstanding flexibility, electrical stability and folding endurance.

Duo to the rational band engineering at the QD/NW interface which results in effective separation of electron-hole pairs, the device showed ultrahigh specific detectivity (up to 9.0 × 1017 Jones), photoconductive gain (up to 1.1 × 107) and high response speed (47 ms).

EETimes: Non-uniform spatial image sampling has been a popular idea over many decades. University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK, gives it another try in open-acess paper "Adaptive foveated single-pixel imaging with dynamic super-sampling" by David B. Phillips, Ming-Jie Sun, Jonathan M. Taylor, Matthew P. Edgar, Stephen M. Barnett, Graham G. Gibson, and Miles J. Padgett.

"In this work we take a different approach and adopt a strategy inspired by the foveated vision systems found in the animal kingdom - a framework that exploits the spatio-temporal redundancy present in many dynamic scenes. In our single-pixel imaging system a high-resolution foveal region follows motion within the scene, but unlike a simple zoom, every frame delivers new spatial information from across the entire field-of-view. Using this approach we demonstrate a four-fold reduction in the time taken to record the detail of rapidly evolving features, whilst simultaneously accumulating detail of more slowly evolving regions over several consecutive frames."

Friday, April 21, 2017

Reuters Says that Sony Image Sensors Cost is Lower than Expected

Reuters: Sony revises upward its annual profit estimation, in part due to the lower costs in its image sensor business. The official annual results for the company's fiscal year ended on March 31, 2017 are to be announced on April 28.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Rear Camera Teardown

TechInsights posted a teardown info on Galaxy S8 rear camera. The 12MP stacked dual pixel image sensor has been identified as one made by Sony, probably IMX333. Other Galaxy S8 phones might contain Samsung-made sensors.

The absence of dual camera in a flagship phone is said to save about $12.50 from the final BOM costs for Samsung.

Analog Devices "Material Sensing Platform"

Analog Devices one more time demos its IR spectrometer-based Material Sensing Platform for smartphones, developed together with Consumer Physics. The previous demo is here.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Samsung Galaxy S8 Teardown Reveals Stand-Alone ISP, Iris Scanner Internals

TechInsights publishes Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphone reverse engineering article listing Samsung S5C73C3 image processors among the other chips on the PCB. The front camera with iris scanner module is shown on the images below:

The front camera is based on Sony stacked IMX320, while the iris scanner BSI sensor is marked as S5K5E6YV (or S5K5E6YV). Both sensors have pixel pitch of 1.12um.

KAUST Interview with Eric Fossum

King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia publishes an interview with Eric Fossum on CMOS sensor invention history and Quanta image sensor:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mobileye CEO Demos Self-Driving Car

Mobileye CEO and Co-Founder Ziv Aviram demos his company self-driving car in the 360-deg surround video:

The full presentation at YPO Edge 2017 held in Vancouver, Canada can be seen here.

Sony Unveils Full-Frame Stacked Sensor

Sony presents a new A9 flagship full-frame ILC featuring 24MP stacked sensor. The stacking allows:

  • up to 20 fps speed,
  • viewfinder or display blackout-free shooting,
  • up to 60 AF/AE tracking calculations per second,
  • silent vibration-free electronic shutter speeds up to 1/32000 sec.
  • Anti-Distortion Shutter operation that minimizes distortion of moving subjects
  • Full pixel array readout with no pixel binning for oversampled 4K 30p video

SonyAlphaRumors publishes a number of slides on the new image sensor:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Yole on Mobile Camera Trends

Yole Developpement publishes an article on mobile phone camera trends. Few quotes:

"First, it seems that in the recent years Apple has slowed down its innovation drive on the camera side, so competitors have been able to move ahead. This is the case for the dual camera setup on the rear side of the phones.

Second, the importance of biometry has had a direct impact on cameras, which are now potential biometric devices. Samsung has implemented a second front-side camera, in the same way Fujitsu had experimented with less than a year ago, in order to provide state of the art iris-recognition technology.

Third, the usage of the front camera is evolving quickly. We had mentioned in our CMOS Image Sensor report the selfie trend’s impact on front facing camera resolution. Companies like Oppo are surfing this wave by improving the performance of the front camera, and recently providing a dual front setup for the F3.

Yole on 3D Imaging Market

Yole Developpement releases report "3D Imaging and Sensing 2017." Few quotes from the flyer:

"In 2016 3D imaging & sensing devices became quite significant business wise, generating more than $1.3B in revenue. While Yole anticipated the advent of 3D imaging & sensing in consumer products by 2020, it seems the schedule has accelerated in recent months. 2018 will likely see a massive influx of products, with the first applications in mobile and computing. And with the iPhone8 expected to incorporate a front-facing 3D camera, 3D’s application as a user interface will finally be better understood. 3D imaging & sensing has made several consumer attempts in the past, i.e. the Kinect game accessory and the Leap motion gesture controller. This time around, we expect Apple to make it right and definitive. Augmented reality is an application, not hardware, and mobile will be the main benefactor of this innovation. Drones & Robots will also benefit from the situation. With a CAGR of 37.7% over the next five years, Yole Développement forecasts 3D imaging & sensing devices to reach $9B by 2022."

3D Imaging and AF Application Drive VSCEL Market

Yole Developpement IR light sources analysis shows that VCSEL market is set for a high growth due to wide adoption of 3D imaging and active ToF AF systems:

Samsung Files New Batch of Color Splitter Patent Applications

Samsung files another bunch of color splitter patent applications:
This is in addition to a previous bunch of the similar patent applications filed a year ago. The applications use the same basic structure:

"The refractive index of the color splitter may be about 1.4 to about 2.4.

The color splitter may include one of high refraction index materials from the group consisting of SiNx, TiO2, ZnS, and ZnSe, or an optical polymer including nanoparticles of the high refraction index materials dispersed in the optical polymer.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Algolux Presents its ISP Tuning Solution

Canadian startup company Algolux presents its ISP image quality tuning solution based on machine learning:

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Human Color Vision Enhanced to 4 Colors

Electrons and Holes: University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers come up with an idea that potentially can kick-start a market for 4 or more color image sensors (and displays) instead of today's RGB ones. Their paper "Enhancement of human color vision by breaking the binocular redundancy" by Bradley S. Gundlach, Alireza Shahsafi, Gregory Vershbow, Chenghao Wan, Jad Salman, Bas Rokers, Laurent Lessard, and Mikhail A. Kats proposes a way to get some of the hyperspectral camera abilities in a very simple way:

"To see color, the human visual system combines the responses of three types of cone cells in the retina - a process that discards a significant amount of spectral information. We present an approach that can enhance human color vision by breaking the inherent redundancy in binocular vision, providing different spectral content to each eye. Using a psychophysical color model and thin-film optimization, we designed a wearable passive multispectral device that uses two distinct transmission filters, one for each eye, to enhance the user's ability to perceive spectral information. We fabricated and tested a design that "splits" the response of the short-wavelength cone of individuals with typical trichromatic vision, effectively simulating the presence of four distinct cone types between the two eyes ("tetrachromacy"). Users of this device were able to differentiate metamers (distinct spectra that resolve to the same perceived color in typical observers) without apparent adverse effects to vision. The increase in the number of effective cones from the typical three reduces the number of possible metamers that can be encountered, enhancing the ability to discriminate objects based on their emission, reflection, or transmission spectra. This technique represents a significant enhancement of the spectral perception of typical humans, and may have applications ranging from camouflage detection and anti-counterfeiting to art and data visualization."

ON Semi Demos LED Flicker Reduction

ON Semi demos its AR0231LFM automotive image sensor with LED flicker mitigation:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Himax Invests in Emza Visual Sense

GlobeNewsWire: Himax makes a strategic investment in cash in exchange for a 45.1% equity ownership of Emza Visual Sense Ltd. (“Emza”), with a one-year option to acquire the remaining 54.9% of Emza’s equity and all outstanding stock options. Purchase price to acquire the remaining equity and all outstanding stock options of Emza if Himax elects to exercise the one-year option includes an all-cash initial purchase amount, along with earnout payments contingent on the performance of Emza. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.

Emza is an Israeli company developing a power-efficient visual sensors that include proprietary machine-vision algorithms and specific architectures that deliver always-on visual sensing capabilities, achieving orders of magnitude improvement in power consumption.

This strategic investment in Emza compliments our previously announced ultra low power CMOS image sensor product and initiatives in delivering turn-key solutions for ‘always-on’ smart camera that enables devices capable of real-time contextual awareness, such as face detection and human presence detection and motion,” said Jordan Wu, CEO of Himax. “Together, we can transform our AoS sensor from a simple ‘image capturing device’ to an ‘information analytics device’ that offers significantly more value to our customers. This exciting new computer vision market demands highly efficient sensors, algorithms, camera and processor architectures capable of delivering extremely low power consumption in a small form factor so that it can be easily integrated into TVs and smartphones, as well as AR/VR, IoT, and AI devices.

Our partnership with Himax, who shares our vision of sub-milliwatt always-on visual sensors, provides Emza with access to a unique technology of ultra low-power CMOS and semi-conductors,” said Yoram Zylberberg, CEO of Emza. “Achieving the breakthrough of advanced computer vision at ultra low-power consumption requires tight integration between the silicon and algorithms. Our partnership with Himax gives us the opportunity to efficiently achieve and commercialize these breakthroughs.

GlobeNewsWire: A week ago, Emza announced a partnership with DSP Group on low power vision processing. DSP Group is known by its low power always-on voice processors for smartphones ("OK Google"-type).

IISW 2017 Agenda

IISW to be held in Hiroshima, Japan on May 30-June 2, 2017 publishes its preliminary program. There are more than 100 image sensor papers, some of them quite surprising. Here are just some of the surprises:

Qualcomm works together with TSMC on a stacked image sensor design:

R02. A 3D Stacked Programmable Image Processing Engine in a 40nm Logic Process with a Detector Array in a 45nm CMOS Image Sensor Technologies
Biay‐Cheng Hseih, Keith Honea, Sami Khawam, Sergio Goma, RJ Lin, Chin‐Hao Chang, Charles Liu, Shang‐Fu Yeh, Hong‐Yi Tu, Kuo‐Yu Chou, Calvin Chao.
Qualcomm Technologies Inc. USA;
TSMC, Taiwan, ROC

Heptagon works with FBK on non-SPAD ToF image sensors with pinned PD and TG:

P22. Transfer-Gate Region Optimization and Pinned-Photodiode Shaping for High-Speed TOF Applications
Fabio Acerbi, Manuel Moreno Garcia, Gözen Köklü, Bernhard Buttgen, Radoslaw Gancarz, Alice Biber, Daniel Furrer, David Stoppa.
Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Center for Material and Microsystems, Italy;
Heptagon Advanced Micro Optics Pte Ltd., Switzerland

Brillnics publicly presents its technology, for the first time ever:

P29. Back Side Illuminated High Dynamic Range 3.0μm Pixel Featuring Vertical p-n Junction Capacitance in A Deep Pinned Photodiode
K. Mori, S.Okura, T. Hasegawa, S. Tanaka and I.Takayanagi.
Brillnics Japan Inc., Japan

Invisage comes up with a larger pixel sensor optimized for 940nm IR imaging:

R53. A QuantumFilm Based QuadVGA 1.5µm Pixel Image Sensor with Over 40% QE at 940 nm for Active Illumination Applications.
Nikolai Bock, Aurelien Bouvier, Dario Clocchiatti, Naveen Kolli, Vitanshu Sharma, Emanuele Mandelli.
InVisage Technologies, USA

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dark Current Blooming

ISAE, CEA and Toulouse University publish a paper on an well known but rarely discussed effect of "Dark Current Blooming in Pinned Photodiode CMOS Image Sensors" by Jean-Marc Belloir, Jean-Baptiste Lincelles, Alice Pelamatti, Clémentine Durnez, Vincent Goiffon, Cédric Virmontois, Philippe Paillet, Pierre Magnan, Member, and Olivier Gilard, also available at IEEE TED.

"This paper demonstrates the existence of dark current blooming in pinned photodiode (PPD) CMOS image sensors (CISs) with the support of both experimental measurements and TCAD simulations. It is usually assumed that blooming can appear only under illumination, when the charge collected by a pixel exceeds the full well capacity (FWC) (i.e., when the photodiode becomes forward biased). In this paper, it is shown that blooming can also appear in the dark by dark current leakage from hot pixels in reverse bias (i.e., below the FWC). The dark current blooming is observed to propagate up to nine pixels away in the experimental images and can impact hundreds of pixels around each hot pixel. Hence, it can be a major image quality issue for the state-of-the-art PPD CISs used in dark current limited applications, such as low-light optical imaging and should be considered in the dark current subtraction process. This paper also demonstrates that one of the key parameter for dark current optimization, the transfer gate bias during integration, has to be carefully chosen depending on the application because the optimum bias for dark current reduction leads to the largest dark current blooming effects."

"The effect of the TG bias (VTG) during integration on the dark current blooming has been investigated (Fig. 9). A slight negative bias (−0.2 V in this paper) is usually chosen for low-light imaging because it ensures a very low mean dark current of the CIS. Indeed, the oxide interface under the TG is mainly accumulated with holes in that case, which neutralize the interface generation centers [15]. However, the potential barrier under the TG is higher than the potential barrier between the PPD and the epitaxy, because the substrate is grounded (0 V). Therefore, the dark current of the PPD is rather emitted toward the epitaxy than under the TG by thermionic emission, which leads to the dark current blooming (Fig. 9). If the TG is biased positively (+0.2 V in Fig. 9), which is a common light induced blooming countermeasure, the potential barrier under the TG becomes lower than toward the epitaxy and the dark current will rather diffuse under the TG (and will be collected by the floating diffusion) than toward the epitaxy. In that case, it can be seen in Fig. 9 that the dark current blooming is supressed. However, the mean dark current of the CIS is higher due to the depleted oxide interface under the TG."

Sony Unveils Automotive HDR Sensor with LED Flicker Reduction

PRNewswire: Sony announces a 2.45MP 1/2.7-inch CMOS sensor for automotive cameras, the IMX390CQV. Sony will begin shipping samples in May 2017.

The new image sensor features an LED flicker mitigation function that reduces flickering when shooting LED signs and traffic signals, as well as an HDR of 120dB (measured according to EMVA1288). The IMX390CQV is said to be the first in the industry that can simultaneously mitigate LED flicker and shoot in HDR, made possible by Sony's new pixel structure and exposure method. It also offers high-sensitivity down to 0.1 lux.

Sony publishes two Youtube videos demoing the LED flicker reduction and HDR features:

The IMX390CQV is planned to meet the requirements of the AEC-Q100 Grade 2 automotive electronic component reliability tests this fiscal year. Moreover, with this new product, Sony also introduced a development process that complies with ISO26262 automobile functional safety standards, aiming to achieve a high level of design quality for an automotive product. The new sensor also meets the functional safety requirement level ASIL C.

Thanks to DS for the pointer!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mediatek Brags About 10-Frame Fast PDAF+AE+WB with Helio X30 SoC

Mediatek publishes a X30 processor presentation video claiming it's able to achieve PDaf, AE and WB in just 10 frames. The only unknown here is the frame rate during the the PDAF, AE and WB stage.

The Helio X30 SoC camera features:

Imagiq 2.0 ISP
  • Two 14-bit ISPs supporting 16+16MP dual camera functionality allows such as wide+zoom combination lenses allow real-time depth of field effects, fastest auto exposure, improved real-time denoise in low-light conditions.
  • Vision Processing Unit
Vision Processing Unit (VPU) ISP that provides a dedicated processing platform for numerous camera features, freeing up the CPU and GPU and saving power. Key advantages include:
  • Programmability and Flexibility: The VPU provides a platform that allows brands the ability to customize camera functionality and drive product differentiation.
  • Huge Power Reduction: The VPU is a dedicated camera-assisting hardware unit it has the ability to perform real-time processing functions, that were typically assigned to CPU or GPU, with only 1/10th power usage.
  • Performance Boost: The VPU can still be used in isolation or as part of a team with the CPU/GPU, employing heterogeneous computing on same memory subsystem for advanced system or multi-application/function tasks.
  • 4K HDR Video
Imagiq’s Dual Camera Zoom offers 2x optical zoom in a super slim form factor.
  • ClearZoom and Temporal Noise Reduction (TNR) technologies enable a sharp, crisp digital zoom up to 10x magnification.
  • Works for both video and photography.
  • Miravision EnergySmart Screen
Instant AE
  • The dedicated Camera Control Unit (CCU) hardware delivers considerably faster, automatic exposure adjustment when environmental lighting conditions change suddenly. AE convergence speed is up to twice as fast as competitive auto exposure performance.
Deep Learning
  • Access to MediaTek’s deep learning SDK featuring support for Caffe and Google’s TensorFlow frameworks, opening up the latest in machine intelligence to developers.

ON Semi Expands EMCCD Product Range

BusinessWire: ON Semi is expanding its portfolio of IT-EMCCDs to target not only low-light industrial applications such as medical and scientific imaging, but also commercial and military applications for high-end surveillance.

The new 4MP KAE-04471 uses larger 7.4um pixels than those found in existing IT-EMCCD devices, doubling the light gathering capability of the new device and improving image quality under light starved conditions. The KAE-04471 is pin and package compatible with the existing 8MP KAE-08151.

The new KAE-02152 shares the same 1080p resolution and 2/3” optical format as the existing KAE-02150, but incorporates an enhanced pixel design that increases sensitivity in NIR band – an improvement that can be critical in applications such as surveillance, microscopy and ophthalmology. The KAE-02152 is fully drop-in compatible with the existing KAE-02150, and both devices are available in packages that incorporate an integrated thermoelectric cooler, simplifying the work required by camera manufacturers to develop a cooled camera design.

As the need for sub-lux imaging solutions expands in surveillance, medical, scientific and defense markets, customers are looking for new options that provide the critical performance required in these applications,” said Herb Erhardt, VP and GM, Industrial Solutions Division, Image Sensor Group at ON Semiconductor. “The new products allow customers to choose from a variety of resolutions, pixel sizes, sensitivities, color configurations and packaging options in our IT-EMCCD portfolio to meet their low-light imaging needs.

An intra−scene switchable gain feature samples each charge packet on a pixel−by−pixel basis, enabling the camera system to determine whether the charge will be routed through the normal gain output or the EMCCD output based on a user selectable threshold. This feature is said to enable imaging in extreme low light even when bright objects are within a dark scene, allowing a single camera to capture quality images from sunlight to starlight.

Engineering grade versions of the KAE-04471 are now available, with production versions available in 2Q17. Engineering grade versions of the KAE-02152 in both a standard package as well as a package incorporating an integrated thermoelectric cooler are also available, with production versions of both configurations available in 3Q17. All IT-EMCCD devices ship in ceramic micro-PGA packages, and are available in both Monochrome and Bayer Color configurations.

KAE-04471 Spec
KAE-02152 Spec

Update: ON Semi also published a webcast explaining its IT-EMCCD technology:

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Omnivision Abandons Superpix Acquisition

Reuters: Ingenic Semiconductor, the name under which Omivision is reportedly traded at Shezhen stock market in China, has canceled acquisition of Superpix as it failed to get an approval from China Securities Regulatory Commission.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Automotive LiDAR Market Trends

Semiconductor Engineering publishes an article on automotive LiDAR market and trends. Few quotes:

"Technavio forecasts the worldwide automotive LiDAR sensors market will see a compound annual growth rate of more than 34% up to 2020. The market research firm estimates the automotive LiDAR market was worth $61.61 million in 2015, with most of the spending in the Europe/Middle East/Africa region and in the Americas.

LiDAR manufacturers are working on reducing the cost of the system by employing efficient processing techniques, and in certain cases positioning products as per customer segments. “For instance, the price of the Velodyne LiDAR unit that is used on Google’s self-driving car is a 64-beam Velodyne HDL- 64E priced at $80,000,”
[Technavio analyst Siddharth] Jaiswal said. “Velodyne also offers 32-beam and 16-beam LiDAR units at $40,000 and $8,000 respectively, which can be used for economical projects. We expect LiDAR technology to follow a similar path of ‘radar’ in the automotive industry, where cost played a crucial role in market adoption. Hence cost is a key focus area for the players.”

LiDAR price trend to 2020, according to Technavio

Yole Developpement analyst Pierre "Cambou noted there are different approaches to autonomous driving, and LiDAR isn’t essential to all of them. “LiDAR is a fundamental piece of equipment for autonomous vehicles, which I would rather call robotic vehicles. There will be many levels of autonomy. LiDAR might be necessary for city autonomous emergency braking, probably in conjunction with radars and cameras. This multimodality approach is well-defined now. Nobody really questions it anymore.”

And LiDAR’s market will increase as prices drop, from about $300 million today to about $600 million over the next five years. “Today there are three entry points in automotive: $3,000, $300, and $30,” he said. “Cameras are currently at the $30 price point and LiDAR is at $3,000. The goal for the LiDAR players is to lower the cost and reach the $300 target without sacrificing too much of the performance. We will see such LiDARs entering the market, probably using solid-state approaches, in the next three years.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Automotive Imaging Market

Smithers Apex publishes its forecast on automotive imaging market:

MIPI CSI-2 v2.0 Released

BusinessWire: MIPI Alliance announces a major release of its Camera Serial Interface (CSI-2) v2.0.

Key MIPI CSI-2 v2.0 enhancements:
  • RAW-16 and RAW-20 color depth that improves intra-scene HDR and SNR to bring “advanced vision” capabilities to autonomous vehicles and systems
  • Expanded virtual channels from 4 to 32 to accommodate the proliferation of image sensors with multiple data types and support multi-exposure and multi-range sensor fusion for ADAS applications such as enhanced collision avoidance
  • Latency Reduction and Transport Efficiency (LRTE) provides increased image sensor aggregation without adding to system cost; facilitates real-time perception, processing and decision-making; and optimizes transport to reduce the number of wires, toggle rate and power consumption
  • Differential Pulse Code Modulation (DPCM) 12-10-12 compression, which reduces bandwidth while delivering superior SNR images devoid of compression artifacts for mission-critical vision applications
  • Scrambling to reduce emissions Power Spectral Density (PSD), minimize radio interference and allow further reach for longer channels
CSI-2 v2.0 can be implemented on either of two physical layers from MIPI Alliance: MIPI C-PHY and MIPI D-PHY.

Omnivision Announces Two Sensors for Security Applications

PRNewsWire: OmniVision announces the OS02A, a new large 4um pixel sensor for security cameras. Built on OmniVision's PureCel technology, the OS02A is OmniVision's first image sensor with a ½-inch optical format capable of capturing 1080p video at 60 fps with staggered HDR.

"OmniVision is focusing its development efforts on improving image quality when recording in extremely difficult lighting conditions to meet the needs of today's security and surveillance cameras," said Chris Yiu, senior strategic marketing manager at OmniVision. "Our goal is to offer a wide variety of solutions for different market segments, having a competitive and specialized offering for every use case. We see the OS02A as a key step forward for high end applications in this sector, offering advanced technologies and exceptional pixel performance that can help capture detailed scene information in both day and night environments."

The OS02A is expected to be available for sampling in April, and to enter volume production in Q3 2017.

PRNewswire: OmniVision announces the OV2736, a 2um RGB-Ir PureCel sensor that is capable of capturing high-quality 1080p60 video with HDR. According to a report by Reportlinker, the home security solutions market is expected to be a $74.28 billion global market by 2025, increasing at a CAGR of 9.1% over the next decade.

"The capabilities of commercial and consumer security cameras are quickly converging due to the rapid development of low-light imaging technologies," said Chris Yiu. "As a pioneer of RGB-Ir and HDR technology, with numerous products equipped with these technologies already deployed in the market, OmniVision is proud to bring the OV2736 to no-compromise home surveillance systems."

Rather than a traditional mechanical IR filter, cameras built on the OV2736 utilize dual-band color filters to deliver image with IR LED ullumination. The sensor has ¼-inch optical format and 110 mW power consumption.

The OV2736 is currently available for sampling and is expected to enter volume production in Q3 2017.

Rockchip Pitches its SoC Imaging Capabilities

China-based Rockchip mobile SoC maker keeps emphasizing its imaging and vision capabilities in this promotional video:

Left pics are shot by vision coprocessor RK1608 based smartphone while the right ones are shot by a 8000RMB high-end smartphone.

RK1608 Solution Features:
  1. Frame based process, rather than line based in ISP
  2. Multi frame process, RAW domain, better quality than YUV domain
  3. Expertise for image processing, much faster than AP
  4. Weak correlation with ISP, freely adapt to any platform

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

MIT Time-Encoded Lensless Image Sensor

Nuit Blanche: MIT team presents an interesting concept of lensless camera in paper "Lensless Imaging with Compressive Ultrafast Sensing" by Guy Satat, Matthew Tancik, and Ramesh Raskar. Actually, there is a projection optics in the system, but only on the illuminator side:

"Here we present a method for lensless imaging based on compressive ultrafast sensing. Each sensor acquisition is encoded with a different illumination pattern and produces a time series where time is a function of the photon’s origin in the scene. Currently available hardware with picosecond time resolution enables time tagging photons as they arrive to an omnidirectional sensor. This allows lensless imaging with significantly fewer patterns compared to regular single pixel imaging. To that end, we develop a framework for designing lensless imaging systems that use ultrafast detectors."

MIT Media Lab video explains how it works:

ON Semi Unveils 2.2um BSI Pixel Platofrm for Security Applications

BusinessWire: ON Semiconductor unveils AR0521 CMOS sensor – the first imaging product based on a 2.2μm BSI pixel platform for security and surveillance applications.

The AR0521 is a 1/2.5-inch, 5MP 60fps image sensor capturing images in either linear or HDR modes with rolling-shutter readout, and includes sophisticated camera functions such as binning, windowing, and both video and single frame modes.

"The ability to deliver high resolution, high quality video feeds in low-light conditions is becoming increasingly important in many applications,” said Gianluca Colli, VP and GM of Consumer Solutions Division, Image Sensor Group at ON Semiconductor. “This new device pushes the performance boundaries and will enable the development of enhanced indoor and outdoor security systems. Particularly key to its success will be the higher resolution that does not impact low light performance and the ability to generate high dynamic range output at frame rates of 30 fps."

Teledyne e2v Wins Bronze Innovators Award at Vision Systems Design 2017

Teledyne e2v has won a Vision Systems Design Innovators Bronze Award in recognition of its Emerald CMOS sensor family. The Emerald CMOS sensor family features the world’s smallest true global shutter and significantly improves DSNU by a factor of ten when compared to other CMOS products.

ULIS Launches Its First 12um Thermal Sensor

ALA: ULIS announces the launch of Atto320, the first in a family of 12um pixel, stand-alone, image sensors. Other 12um products are sold either as modules or thermal camera cores, where access to the thermal image sensor’s performance parameters is restricted. The new fully digital Atto320, a 320×240 microbolometric image sensor consumes less than 220 mW at 60 fps.

ULIS believes in constant innovation and is proud to announce its very first 12-micron product, manufactured using its unique 12-micron pixel pitch manufacturing technology,” said Sebastien Tinnes, marketing manager at ULIS. “Atto320 is the first in our next-generation 12-micron product line. It showcases our expertise in developing innovative products for camera makers seeking more compactness and performance attributes that bring greater competitive advantages. This is a major step forward in our ability to fulfill our customers needs in optimizing the cost, compactness and performance of their systems.

Artificially Intelligent Imaging Lecture

Fayçal Saffih, University of Waterloo, delivers a lecture "Artificially Intelligent Imaging (AI2): CMOS Imaging & Standard CMOS moving together in 3D Nanoscale Integration and even impacting PV's" at Nanotech' 2017 Conference held in Dubai on April 3, 2017:

Ambarella Introduces 1.5W 4Kp30 SoCs

BusinessWire: Ambarella introduces the S5L and S5LM SoC families for 4K IP security cameras. The S5L is designed for professional IP cameras and includes 4K HDR processing, multi-streaming, on-chip lens distortion correction, and dual video inputs. The S5LM targets the home monitoring market, including battery-powered IP cameras and video doorbell cameras, and uses a single 16-bit DDR memory for low-power operation. Both chips are fabricated in low-power 14nm process.

Both SoC families support H.265 and H.264 algorithms to deliver 4Kp30 video with bitrates as low as 512 Kbits/second, while maintaining video quality. A quad-core ARM A53 CPUs support smart analytics, including object and person detection, to reduce false alarms and maximize battery life in battery-powered designs. Both SoC families achieve extremely low-power operation and can deliver 4Kp30 video at under 1.5 Watts or full HD at under 0.5 Watts.

Monday, April 03, 2017

$60 Smartphone Features 4 Cameras

DeviceSpecifications: Bluboo D1 smartphone to be released later this month features dual front and rear cameras and will be priced at $60. The company page says that the dual rear camera combines Sony 8MP and 2MP sensors, while the front camera has 5MP and VGA sensors. The smartphone also has a dedicated image processing chip for real-time dual camera support: