Monday, October 23, 2017

Omnivision Unveils First Nyxel Product for Security Applications

PRNewswire: OmniVision introduces the OS05A20, the first image sensor to implement OmniVision's Nyxel NIR technology. This 5MP color image sensor leverages both the PureCel pixel and Nyxel technology and achieves a significant improvement in QE when compared with OmniVision's earlier-generation sensors. However, no QE numbers have been released so far.

Nyxel technology combines thick-silicon pixel architectures with extended DTI to improve QE up to 3x for 850nm and up to 5x for 940nm, while maintaining all other image-quality metrics.

Sony Releases Stacked Automotive Sensor Meeting Mobileye Spec

PRNewswire: Sony releases IMX324, a 1/1.7-inch stacked CMOS sensor with 7.42MP resolution and RCCC (Red-Clear-Clear-Clear) color filter for forward-sensing cameras in ADAS. The IMX324 is expected to offer compatibility with the "EyeQ 4" and "EyeQ 5" image processors currently being developed by Mobileye, an Intel Company. Until now now, Mobileye reference designs relied mostly on ON Semi sensors.

Sony will begin shipping samples in November 2017. IMX324 is said to be the industry's first automotive grade stacked image sensor meeting quality standards and functions required for automotive applications.

This image sensor is capable of approximately three times the horizontal resolution of conventional products (IMX224MQV), enabling image capture of objects such as road signs of up to 160m away (with FOV 32° lens). The sensor's pixel binning mode achieves the low lighting sensitivity of 2666 mV. The sensor is equipped with a unique function that captures dark sections at high-sensitivity settings as well as bright sections at high resolution alternatively, enabling high-precision image recognition when combined with post-signal processing.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Smartphone Imaging Market Reports

InstantFlashNews quotes Taiwan-based Isaiah Research on 3D-imaging capable smartphones saying that market keep to be dominated by Apple till 2019 when iPhone is supposed to have 55% out of the total 290M units:

Isaiah Research increases forecast for dual camera phones to 270M units in 2017:

The earlier Isaiah reports from July 2016 gave significantly lower numbers of 170-180M units:

Gartner reports a decrease in the global image sensor revenue from 2015 to 2016: "The CMOS image sensor market declined 1.7% in 2016, mainly because of a price drop and saturation of smartphones, especially high-end smartphones." The top 5 companies accounted for 88.9% of global CIS revenue in 2016 with the top 3 companies have 78.9% of the market:

3 Layer Color and Polarization Sensitive Imager

A group of researchers from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Washington University in St. Louis, and University of Cambridge, UK published a paper "Bio-inspired color-polarization imager for real-time in situ imaging" by Missael Garcia, Christopher Edmiston, Radoslav Marinov, Alexander Vail, and Viktor Gruev. The image sensor is said to be inspired by mantis shrimps vision, although it more reminds me quite approach of Foveon:

"Nature has a large repertoire of animals that take advantage of naturally abundant polarization phenomena. Among them, the mantis shrimp possesses one of the most advanced and elegant visual systems nature has developed, capable of high polarization sensitivity and hyperspectral imaging. Here, we demonstrate that by shifting the design paradigm away from the conventional paths adopted in the imaging and vision sensor fields and instead functionally mimicking the visual system of the mantis shrimp, we have developed a single-chip, low-power, high-resolution color-polarization imaging system.

Our bio-inspired imager captures co-registered color and polarization information in real time with high resolution by monolithically integrating nanowire polarization filters with vertically stacked photodetectors. These photodetectors capture three different spectral channels per pixel by exploiting wavelength-dependent depth absorption of photons.

"Our bio-inspired imager comprises 1280 by 720 pixels with a dynamic range of 62 dB and a maximum signal-to-noise ratio of 48 dB. The quantum efficiency is above 30% over the entire visible spectrum, while achieving high polarization extinction ratios of ∼40∼40 on each spectral channel. This technology is enabling underwater imaging studies of marine species, which exploit both color and polarization information, as well as applications in biomedical fields."

A Youtube video shows nice pictures coming out of the camera:

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Infineon, Autoliv on Automotive Imaging Market

Infineon publishes an "Automotive Conference Call" presentation dated by Oct. 10, 2017. Few interesting slides showing camera and LiDAR content in cars of the future:

Autoliv CEO presentation dated by Sept. 28, 2017 gives a bright outlook on automotive imaging:

Friday, October 20, 2017

Trinamix Distance Sensing Technology Explained

BASF spin-off Trinamix publishes a nice technology page with Youtube videos explaining its depth sensing principles. They call it "Focus-Induced Photoresponse (FIP):"

"FIP takes advantage of a particular phenomenon in photodetector devices: an irradiance-dependent photoresponse. The photoresponse of these devices depends not only on the amount of light incident, but also on the size of the light spot on the detector. This phenomenon allows to distinguish whether the same amount of light is focused or defocused on the sensor. We call this the “FIP effect” and use it to measure distance.

The picture illustrates how the FIP effect can be utilized for distance measurements. The photocurrent of the photodetector reaches its maximum when the light is in focus and decreases symmetrically outside the focus. A change of the distance between light source and lens results in such a change of the spot size on the sensor. By analyzing the photoresponse, the distance between light source and lens can be deduced.

Trinamix also started production of Hertzst├╝ck PbS SWIR photodetectors with PbSe ones to follow:

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Invisage Acquired by Apple?

Reportedly, there is some sort of acquisition deal reached between Invisage and Apple. A part of Invisage employees joined Apple. Another part is looking for jobs, apparently. While the deal has never been officially announced, I got an unofficial confirmation of this story from 3 independent sources.

Update: According to 2 sources, the deal was closed in July this year.

Somewhat old Invisage Youtube videos are still available and show the company's visible-light technology, although Invisage worked on IR sensing in more recent years:

Update #2: There are few more indications that Invisage has been acquired. Nokia Growth Partners (NGP) that participated the 2014 investing round shows Invisage in its exits list:

InterWest Partners too invested in 2014 and now lists Invisage as its non-current investments:

Samsung VR Camera Features 17 Imagers

Samsung introduces the 360 Round, a camera for developing and streaming high-quality 3D content for VR experience. The 360 Round uses 17 lenses—eight stereo pairs positioned horizontally and one single lens positioned vertically—to livestream 4K 3D video and spatial audio, and create engaging 3D images with depth.

With such cameras getting widely adopted on the market, it can easily become a major market for image sensors:

Google Pixel 2 Smartphone Features Stand-Alone HDR+ Processor

Ars Technica reports that Google Pixel 2 smartphone features a separate Google-designed image processor chip, "Pixel Visual Core." It's said "to handle the most challenging imaging and machine learning applications" and that the company is "already preparing the next set of applications" designed for the hardware. The Pixel Visual Core has its own CPU, a low power ARM A53 core, DDR4 RAM, the eight IPU cores, and a PCIe and MIPI interfaces. Google says the company's HDR+ image processing can run "5x faster and at less than 1/10th the energy" than it currently does on the main CPU. The new core will be enabled in the forthcoming Android Oreo 8.1 (MR1) update.

The new IPU cores are intended to use Halide language for image processing and TensorFlow for machine learning. A custom Google-made compiler optimizes the code for the underlying hardware.

Google also publishes an article explaining its HDR+ and portrait mode that the new core is supposed to accelerate. Google also publishes a video explaining the Pixel 2 camera features:

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Basler Compares Image Sensors for Machine Vision and Industrial Applications

Basler presents EMVA 1288 measurements of the image sensors in its cameras. It's quite interesting to compare CCD with CMOS sensors and Sony with other companies in terms of QE. Qsat, Dark Noise, etc.: