Monday, September 26, 2016

Toshiba Develops Switchable 2D/3D Sensor

Toshiba develops an image sensor that can be switched between 2D and 3D imaging modes. To get a switchable microlens array for 3D light field mode, Toshiba sensor uses a liquid crystal for 8,000 gradient-index (GRIN) lens array. The lenses have 50um pitch and can be switched between 2MP-resolving 2D and a depth-resolving 3D modes by application of +/-4V control voltage:

Sunny Report

Guosen Securities publishes its research report on Sunny Optical - Chinese maker of lens and camera modules. Few quotes:

"Aside from rapid pixel migration (8MP & above over 70% in 1H16), Sunny will benefit from the rapid adoption of dual camera modules in FY16-18. In 2016, we already see Huawei, LG and Xiaomi adopting dual cameras ahead of Apple and Samsung and we expect other competitors very likely to adopt the feature in their upcoming flagship phones to stay competitive. We expect 4% adoption in FY16 rising to 23% through FY18. Beyond that, we predict smartphones will adopt even more cameras to support 3D and augmented reality functions. We forecast HCM revenue to rise at 24% CAGR through FY16-18 while margins should be on a mild uptrend supported by dual camera ramp up."

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Snapchat Launches Spectacles with Camera

BBC, WSJ, Business Insider, Snap: Snapchat launches its first hardware product, a camera equipped sunglasses named Spectacles. Simultaneously the company changes its name to Snap to reflect that its activity expands beyond the smartphone application. Now, Snap home page says:

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel wearing Spectacles

Spectacles’ camera uses a 115-degree lens, said to be much closer to the eyes’ natural field of view. On a tap on the button near the hinge, it records up to 10 sec of video from your first-person vantage (30 sec, according to BBC). Each new tap records another clip. Spectacles will be available this fall for $130.

One of the differentiators of the Spectacles camera is the round format of its video output. The rectangular format is said to be the one of the past when photos were made to print on paper. Now, they are used in a different way:



Friday, September 23, 2016

Strange Applications for Image Sensors

Inspired by Ig Nobel prizes this week, here is a roundup of the recent prize-worthy patent applications that incorporate image sensors:

Philips application US20160262521 "A system and a method for guiding a user during a shaving procedure" by Jacek Lukasz Kustra, Guido Theodorus Gerardus Volleberg, Stefan Pfundtner, Karl Catharina Bree, Petrus Johannes Arnoldus Hubertus Kuijten, John Cornelius Petrus Van Der Ven, Harry Broers proposes "the system comprising an imaging module configured to register an image of a part of the body of the user, an image data analyzer configured to determine a local hair-growth direction based on data in the image, a controller configured to generate instructions about a direction in which a hair cutting device is to be moved over the body in dependence on the determined local hair-growth direction, and a feedback system configured to provide the instructions to the user."


Samsung patent application US20160267895 "Electronic device, method for recognizing playing of string instrument in electronic device, and method for providng feedback on playing of string instrument in electronic device" by Dae Young Jeon, Yeon Su Kim, Yeong Min Kim, Jung Min Park, Kyung Seok Oh proposes "The electronic device includes an image sensor configured to sense a motion of a bow to the string instrument, a vibration sensor configured to sense a vibration generated by the string instrument, and a control module configured to determine a fingering position of a user with respect to the string instrument using the motion of the bow and the vibration."


Bosch Und Siemens Hausgerate patent application US20160201981 "Refrigeration appliance with a camera module" by Stephan Kempfle, Gerhard Wetzl solves a problem of rolling shutter distortions when the refrigerator door opens. The distortions might cause difficulties in the food identification. The application proposes to rotate the camera as the door opens, so that it's always pointing to the same spot 125:

Thursday, September 22, 2016

AutoSens 2016 Review

Albert Theuwissen publishes a review of the first AutoSens conference held last week in Brussels, Belgium. The review covers Yole, Softkinetic and ST presentations.

Framos Becomes Image Sensor Manufacturer

The world's largest image sensor distributor Framos discovers a new opportunity and comes up with its own brand image sensors:

The technological change from CCD to CMOS sensors also offers huge opportunities in medical diagnostics, however, there are no standard sensors for endoscopes. Mostly, customized sensors with a production quantity under 50.000 pieces are not rentable in production due to high on-off-costs.

The imaging experts at FRAMOS are now closing that gap. As a technical consultant and development partner for many years, FRAMOS will launch its own image sensors, especially designed for the needs of the medical industry and endoscopy at the MEDICA 2016. Axel Krepil, Head of the Sensor Department, explains the motivation: “Based on developments in the mobile device market, CMOS technology now offers a clearly superior image quality than CCD in the low-light range relevant for diagnostics. Smaller sensors and thus, endoscope sizes, can be implemented at a very cost-effective price now. As a sensor expert, we can offer such a cost-effective standard product which is qualified for medical use and which offers medical device companies security with respect to development, certification and distribution due to its long-term availability.

The 2MP model FRA0261 with CMOS-BSI technology and with a chip scale packaging (CSP) of 4.1mm x 3.9mm, allows for endoscopes or camera modules with dimensions below 6mm and, at this size, are particularly suited for colonoscopes, mobile and reusable endoscopes used for colonoscopies. A pixel size of 1.4 µm x 1.4 µm, Full-HD resolution and a frame rate of 60 frames per second increase the image quality for the treating physician and improves real-time capabilities. In comparison to CCD technology, the small-size CMOS sensors are available for approximately half the current market price. In addition, FRAMOS offers the sensors as a “die” version with which endoscope manufacturers can install the sensor for a better angle of sight based on optical requirements, in any position, for instance vertical or tilted. With the powerful 2- or 4-lane MIPI interface, only a few cable connections are required between the sensor and the control unit.

The FRA0100 model (in development) with 1MP resolution and a 3mm x 3mm CSP is particularly light and suitable for round small-size endoscopes used in cardiovascular surgeries. The 1000 x 1000 pixel resolution is achieved due to the small pixel size of 1.75µm x 1.75µm.

With both sensors, we cover the need, with respect to reusable sensors which are required in smaller quantities and therefore fall below the radar of the large manufacturers or which would incur costs in individual developments. FRAMOS thus offers a quality adapted to the needs of the medical technology field and a long-term, stable supply at a reasonable price.” says Krepil.

Thanks to TL for the link!

DALSA Introduces TDI CMOS Sensors

Teledyne DALSA announces the multi-line color CMOS TDI cameras in its Piranha XL family. Piranha XL cameras feature multi-line color CMOS TDI and employ Teledyne DALSA's CMOS architecture for color imaging using 4 rows per RGB channel for 12 rows in total.

Key features:

  • High sensitivity color TDI for high-speed color imaging with 4x the responsivity of a single-line tri-linear camera through TDI summing of 4 rows per color making it ideal for low-light conditions
  • True RGB colors – outputs native colors without interpolation
  • High speed and high resolution – inspects more in less time with a maximum line rate of 210kHz (70kHz x 3) in full color mode in either 8k or 16k resolution
  • Parallax and sub-pixel spatial correction for ease of integration in challenging environments

Softkinetic Announces World's Smallest ToF Camera Module for Mobile

PRNewswire: SoftKinetic announces the DepthSense 541, said to be the world's smallest 3D ToF camera created for mobile platforms.

"Mobile technology innovation, combined with increased consumer expectations, has created a heightened demand for 3D vision innovation in handheld devices and wearables," said Eric Krzeslo, CMO and co-founder of SoftKinetic. "The rise of location-based augmented reality games requires 3D technology at a smaller footprint, with increased sophistication and capability. SoftKinetic has led innovation in ToF technology and we're excited to continue offer the best 3D depth sensing hardware and software solutions for a wide variety of platforms."

SoftKinetic's DS541 is based on the latest DepthSense ToF architecture and features:

  • 10µ pixel, ¼ inch sensor with micro lenses for highest depth resolution
  • HDR sensor for both outdoor operation and extra close depth capture
  • MIPI interface for lowest latency
  • Innovative lens design for smallest form factor and highest efficiency

The DS541 is currently available for sample, with mass production planned in Q3 2017.


Allied Market Research forecasts the global 3D camera market to reach $10.8 billion by 2021, led by significant embedded adoption in the mobile space, particularly around media and entertainment applications:

3D Camera Market Revenue by Technology, 2014 & 2021

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

IHS: Cameras Are ~9% of iPhone 7 BOM

IHS publishes its estimation of iPhone 7 BOM, with cameras costing $19.90 or about 8.9% of the total $224.80.

For comparison, iPhone 5s cameras cost was 6-7% of the BOM, iPhone 6 and 6s - about 7.7%, and iPhone SE - about 8.5%.

Image Sensor Americas Agenda

Image Sensor Americas conference to be held on Oct. 25-26 in San Francisco, CA, publishes its quite an interesting agenda with short abstracts:
  • Keynote: The Prospects for Building Image Sensors in America
    Paul Gallagher | Senior Director of Technolog of LG Display
  • Camera Selection for Low Light Imaging: Choosing the Right Camera Based on an Informed Analysis of Signal Levels and Noise.
    James Butler | Manager of OEM Camera Products of Hamamatsu Photonics
  • Image Sensors for Security, Wearable and Consumer Electronic Products: The Race to Low Light Performance
    Patrice Roulet | Director of Engineering and Co-Founder of Technology of Immervision
  • Fueling an IoT-Driven Future: The QuantumFilm Imaging Platform
    Remi Lacombe | VP Sales and Marketing of Invisage
  • Flexible Image Sensors Printed on Plastic
    Carlo Guareschi | Vice-President of Business Development of ISORG
  • Bio-inspired Event-based Sensor Technology for Computer Vision
    Luca Verre | CEO of Chronocam
  • Imaging beyond the Bandgap: A 200 GHz Silicon CMOS Imager
    Kenneth Fourspring | Senior Image Scientist of Harris Corporation Geospatial Systems
  • Processors for Embedded Computer Vision: Options and Trends
    Jeff Bier | Founder and President of Embedded Vision Alliance and BDTI
  • CMOS Image Sensors Open Up New Options in Medical Imaging
    Axel Krepil | Sensor + Division of Framos
  • Miniature Form Factor Camera Modules for Medical Endoscopy
    Martin Waeny | CEO of AWAIBA
  • Market Analysis
    Rajender Thusu | Indsutry Principal, Sensors Practice of Frost & Sullivan
  • Optical Solution for NIR Crosstalk in RGBir Hybrid Sensors
    Rich Hicks | Senior Camera and Imaging Technologies of Intel
  • ALCHERA: a hyperspectral architecture that enables ubiquitous imaging spectroscopy
    Alex Hegyi | Research Staff of PARC, a Xerox Company
  • Using Advanced Imaging to Optimise Supply Chain Processes: The Beef Example
    Alexandra Booth | Research Scientist of ImpactVision
  • Image Sensor Needs: A Customer’s Perspective
    Scott Campbell | V.P. of Research of GoPro
  • The Eyes Have It
    Peter Milford | CTO of EyeFluence
  • IEEE CPIQ Standard for Measuring and Benchmarking Image Quality in Consumer Mobile Devices
    Jonathan Phillips | Image Scientist of Google
  • Mobile Imaging
    Sean Kelly | VP of Imaging of Motorola
  • Deep Learning, Driving the next Image Processing Revolution
    Yair Siegel | Director of Product Marketing, Imaging & Vision of CEVA DSP
  • Using Computational Power to Overcome the Hardware Constraints in Optical Designs
    Eugene Panich | CEO, Co-Founder of Almalence
  • Image Sensors in Automotive: Plotting the Evolution of Image Sensors in a Vehicle
    Pallavi Madakasira | Analyst of Lux Research Intelligence