Tuesday, August 19, 2014

iFixit Reveals Mantis Vision 3D Camera inside Google Project Tango Tablet

iFixit teardown shows that Mantis Vision structured light camera is responsible for Google Project Tango tablet 3D vision. The teardown team quotes Google: "The IR projector is from Mantis Vision, and designed specific to our specs for field of view and resolution. It is custom designed to work in partnership with the 4MP RGB-IR camera on the other side."

Monday, August 18, 2014

ON Semi Defines Post-Acquisition Aptina Organization

Business Wire: ON Semiconductor announces the completion of its acquisition of Aptina Imaging. ON expects to establish a new reporting segment, which will incorporate the financial results of the company’s consolidated sensor businesses, including the recent acquisitions of Aptina Imaging and Truesense Imaging, and ON Semiconductor’s existing optical, image and touch sensor businesses. The company expects to begin reporting financial results for the newly created segment from Q3 2014.

Taner Ozcelik, has been named SVP of the Aptina image sensor business and will report to Keith Jackson, president and CEO of ON Semi. Before the acquisition, Taner Ozcelik used to be Aptina SVP responsible for the Automotive and Embedded business.

For the Q3 2014, the acquisition of Aptina will likely contribute revenue in the range of $60M to $70M. Excluding the costs related to restructuring, and other acquisition related items, the acquisition of Aptina is expected to be slightly accretive to the ON's non-GAAP net income in Q3 2014.

In its investor presentation, ON Semi shows financial targets for Aptina business:

ESPROS Improves its ToF Evaluation Kit

Espros Photonics presents an improved version of the evaluation kit for its epc610 ToF sensor:

"The new epc610 Evaluation Kit is a significant upgrade from the former version. We opted for a completely new hardware design of the camera module. This module is based on our thorough background on TOF and incorporates the recent learnings from our customers.

A first novelty is an LED subsystem, which is optimized to illuminate the operation range in a more uniform way. Seven LEDs (Osram SFH 4059) are placed at the edge of the camera PCB. These LEDs cover the more distant operating range. Together, they deliver a high intensity, but due to the placement away from the receiver lens, their effect drops drastically at close range. This is where the single short range LED jumps in. Placed close to the receiver lens this single LED is much better suited to delivering light on to close objects, while its effect fades when the targets move further away. The result of this design is an illumination intensity with reduced peaks at certain distances. On signal level, this translates to a lower dynamic range that needs to be covered by the the detector system. Ask your sensor specialist and he will tell you why he likes that! With this design, the epc610 Camera Module works in a range from zero up to about three meters – depending on the target reflectivity.

Taiwan LIPS Presents ToF Stereo 3D Camera

As written in comments to the previous post, Taiwan-based LIPS posted Youtube videos demoing a 3D camera based on combination of ToF and stereo. No explanation of the technology is given, other than saying it's compatible with Primesense openNI 1.5 and 2.x software.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Richard Crisp on 3D Imaging

Image Sensors Americas conference publishes an interview with Richard Crisp from Etron on future of 3D imaging. Few quotes:

"I see the key applications in the area of control, security, visualization and reproduction. Significant market opportunities lie ahead in general-purpose computing/communications platforms (notebook/tablet/smartphone) as well as in fixed function appliances."

"The area of end application concepts, software and infrastructure are major areas of activity today. Once fully deployed, the impact of 3D imaging technology on our everyday life will be transformative in the same way the internet was: it will fundamentally change how we do things."

Friday, August 15, 2014

IMEC CMOS Imagers with Embedded CCD

Sensors Online published IMEC's Piet De Moor article "CMOS Imagers with Embedded CCD." Few quotes:

"Imec developed a CMOS compatible CCD module and included this into its custom imager 130-nm process... Imec implemented a number of process modifications to realize a CMOS compatible CCD module in its 130-nm custom image sensor technology platform. The embedded CCD module uses a single layer poly-silicon CCD electrode with narrow gaps to allow efficient charge transfer. It is customizable depending on application needs, and is compatible with back-side illumination."

"Embedded CCD, being a CCD compatible with CMOS operating voltages, opens possibilities for new and rich pixel architectures. For example, users could utilize an in-pixel CCD to implement a charge-domain global shutter functionality. Although this concept to image a full frame at the same exact timing is possible using CMOS imagers, it generally comes with a noise penalty.

Other possible uses of embedded CCD pixels include extreme high-frame rate burst imagers, where subsequent frames are stored inside the pixel using small CCD based analog memories. Certain time-of-flight implementations could also benefit from this technology. In addition to monolithic TDI applications for industrial inspection, TDI functionality is also used in hybrid infrared and x-ray imagers.

Aptina Shipped 50M Automotive Sensors in 10 Years

Aptina has shipped 50 millionth image sensor for automotive systems. The company estimates that nearly one in every two cars with an imaging solution uses an Aptina image sensor. The company sees this as an important milestone in its ten years of focus on automotive imaging.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Nikkei: Sony Aims to Capture 50% of Automotive Sensor Market, Prepares Sensor with 10x Sensitivity

Nikkei says that Sony has developed a sensor for automotive applications, which is "10 times as sensitive to light as existing chips, allowing for easier detection of objects in dark environments. The sensor can provide a color display of the surrounding area even in moonlight, enabling it to detect obstacles more readily than a driver can." Sony plans to start mass production of the sensor and begin sales to automotive equipment manufacturers in the latter half of 2015. The new sensor is expected to appear in car-mounted devices in 2016.

Aptina and OmniVision are leading the automotive image sensor market now. "But Sony aims to eventually pick up 50% of the market." Annual production of smart cars equipped with many cameras is expected to reach 100 million vehicles by 2025.

Omnivision Gets $1.64B Takeover Offer

Fox Business News, Seeking Alpha, WSJ, Barron's: Omnivision says it received a $1.64 billion takeover offer from a Chinese investor group led by Hua Capital Management Ltd. The investor group includes state-owned Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment Co. Omnivision's board is reviewing Hua's proposal, and has made no decision yet.

Update: Here is the official Omnivision statement on the offer.

4.4 Tera-fps Camera

Nature Photonics publishes a paper from a number Japanese universities and research centers showing 450x450 pixel imaging at 4.4 trillion fps:

"Sequentially timed all-optical mapping photography (STAMP)"
K. Nakagawa, A. Iwasaki, Y. Oishi, R. Horisaki, A. Tsukamoto, A. Nakamura, K. Hirosawa, H. Liao, T. Ushida, K. Goda, F. Kannari & I. Sakuma

The paper is supplemented by a nice videos explaining the camera operation and showing the demo movies (see more videos at the bottom of the Nature Photonics page):