Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Digitimes on CMOS Sensors Demand

Digitimes publishes an infro from its sources on image sensor market this year:
  • Handsets with dual-lens cameras spurs demand for CMOS sensors
  • More mid-range smartphones are expected to feature a dual lens cameras in 2017
  • Mobile devices consume 70% of CMOS sensors
  • Automotive market has expanded for CMOS image sensors
  • The supply of CMOS sensors becomes tight

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MediSens Conference Videos

MediSens conference held in Dec 2016 in London, UK, publishes ON Semi and Hamamatsu interviews in its Youtube channel:

In addition, MediSens filmed all the presentations, they can be accessed by attendees for free, and for non-attendees for a fee.

Also, News-Medical publishes its review of the conference.

EETimes on ADAS Vision Processors Race

EETimes article on ADAS processors race talks about emerging competitors of Mobileye ADAS vision processor:

"During the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, companies ranging from MediaTek and Renesas to NXP and Ambarella, told us they are working on “alternatives” to Mobileye’s EyeQ chips. On the opening day of CES, On Semiconductor announced that it has licensed CEVA's imaging and vision platform for its automotive advanced driver assistance (ADAS) product lines."

Monday, January 16, 2017

Oscar-Winning Image Sensors The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces its scientific and technical awards. Among them, two are image sensor related: RED for upgradeable image sensor, and Sony CineAlta F65 for high performance and unique color pattern.

  • To RED Digital Cinema for the pioneering design and evolution of the RED Epic digital cinema cameras with upgradeable full-frame image sensors.
    RED’s revolutionary design and innovative manufacturing process have helped facilitate the wide adoption of digital image capture in the motion picture industry.
  • To Sony for the development of the F65 CineAlta camera with its pioneering high-resolution imaging sensor, excellent dynamic range, and full 4K output.
    Sony’s unique photosite orientation and true RAW recording deliver exceptional image quality.

Update: The ARRI and Panavision camera awards are said to be image sensor related too:

  • To ARRI for the pioneering design and engineering of the Super 35 format Alexa digital camera system.
    With an intuitive design and appealing image reproduction, achieved through close collaboration with filmmakers, ARRI’s Alexa cameras were among the first digital cameras widely adopted by cinematographers.
  • To Panavision and Sony for the conception and development of the groundbreaking Genesis digital motion picture camera.
    Using a familiar form factor and accessories, the design features of the Genesis allowed it to become one of the first digital cameras to be adopted by cinematographers.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Reportedly, Altasens Closed Down

As written in comments to Altasens news post, apparently, the company has been closed down on Friday, the 13th of January, 2017.

From Altasens web site, still active for now:

"AltaSens is a wholly owned subsidiary of JVC KENWOOD Corporation.

The company was originally founded in 2004 as a fabless global supplier of imaging sensors. Our earliest roots trace back to our original formation as the CMOS Imaging Sensors Group within the Rockwell Scientific Company in 2000.

AltaSens spun off from Rockwell in 2004, at the precise time to make its mark in the nascent HD broadcasting market, just as the FCC set its mandate for broadcast-industry HD transmission. Adding to the technology provided by AltaSens’ technical team and the associated intellectual property from Rockwell were the business acumen and initial funding that were provided by ITX Corporation of Tokyo, Japan. The new company introduced the world’s first 1080p60 CMOS sensors at the NAB show in April of 2004.

Subsequently, AltaSens became a wholly owned subsidiary of ITX Corporation. During this time, the company delivered several unique sensors meeting specialized requirements for prototype imaging cameras that were not made available for commercial sale.

AltaSens is currently a leading supplier of imaging sensors for HD videoconferencing and has supplied imaging sensors for many types of HDTV cameras, including the first Blu Ray camcorders offered in the global marketplace.

The leadership team at AltaSens has decades of international business and advanced technology development experience in the semiconductor industry. We have successfully created many innovative imaging sensor designs for leading-edge cameras and scientific instruments. Working closely with our customers as well as our talented sensor design, wafer production, sensor packaging, sensor production, logistics, and quality assurance teams, we bring together world-class expertise and creativity to supply the best possible CMOS imaging sensor for each specific application.

Lester Kozlowski and Gregory Chow
in an early AltaSens Lab

Nintendo Switch Controller Features 3D Camera

Arstechnica: The newly announced Nintendo Switch gaming console features 3D camera in its controllers:

"The most intriguing surprise inside the Joy-Con controller is a motion-depth infrared camera, which Nintendo's designers insist can differentiate between distinct hand shapes. To illustrate this, Nintendo reps showed off the controller recognizing hand shapes for rock, paper, and scissors. The tracker will also be able to detect exactly how far an object is from the controller. Nintendo says these will be able to record full video "in the future."

The Joy Con's motion-tracking IR camera.
The IR camera is able to recognize hand shapes
The camera also measures distance to an object

Framos to Distribute Sony Consumer Sensors in North America

Pressebox: FRAMOS becomes Sony North American Stocking Distributor of consumer image sensors, in both packaged and bare die form.

"We are very proud to grow with Sony and its Semiconductor and Sensor division with the addition of the Consumer Imaging Sensors offering. We believe that easy access to world leading sensors such as the IMX177, IMX277, IMX377 and IMX477 will be popular with clients in all consumer based verticals," says Sebastien Dignard, President of FRAMOS Technologies.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Altasens News

PRNewswire: AltaSens has adopted the Cadence Modus Test Solution for its mixed-signal next-generation 90nm image sensors. The Modus enabled AltaSens to deliver its first digital-on-top (DOT) image sensor much more efficiently. AltaSens design team was able to meet fault coverage goals with greater than 98 percent static coverage.

Nikkei: JVC Kenwood Corp will release a lens-interchangeable 4k GW-MD100 camera module targeted at various systems such as the aerial cameras of cranes and drones, observation cameras for academic use, surveying/monitoring cameras for roads, bridges, etc. It is equipped with a Super 35mm 13.5MP image sensor developed by AltaSens which is affiliated with JVC Kenwood.

Altasense published a demo of this sensor about 3 years ago, while the GW-MD100 is scheduled to be released in late March 2017:

Google RAISR and Draco Reduce Amount of 2D and 3D Data

Google says it has developed RAISR machine learning technology that can upsample the image by 4x with visually pleasing results:

Top: Original, Bottom: RAISR super-resolved 2x.
Original image from Andrzej Dragan

The smart machine learning algorithm is said to be able to recognize and remove the aliasing artifacts from the downsampled image:

Left: Low res original, with strong aliasing.
Right: RAISR output, removing aliasing.

Google paper "RAISR: Rapid and Accurate Image Super Resolution" by Yaniv Romano, John Isidoro, Peyman Milanfar is to be published in IEEE Transactions on Computational Imaging.

Google also announces Draco - an open-source algorithm for 3D image compression.

"With Draco, applications using 3D graphics can be significantly smaller without compromising visual fidelity. For users this means apps can now be downloaded faster, 3D graphics in the browser can load quicker, and VR and AR scenes can now be transmitted with a fraction of the bandwidth, rendered quickly and look fantastic."

Friday, January 13, 2017

World's First Graphene Integration onto CMOS Image Sensor publishes a paper "Image sensor array based on graphene-CMOS integration" by Stijn Goossens, Gabriele Navickaite, Carles Monasterio, Shuchi Gupta, Juan José Piqueras, Raúl Pérez, Gregory Burwell, Ivan Nikitskiy, Tania Lasanta, Teresa Galán, Eric Puma, Alba Centeno, Amaia Pesquera, Amaia Zurutuza, Gerasimos Konstantatos, and Frank Koppens. The authors are affiliated with Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology, Institució Catalana de Recerça, and Graphenea SA, all based in Spain.

From the abstract:

"Here, we show for the first time the monolithic integration of a CMOS integrated circuit with graphene, operating as a high mobility phototransistor. We demonstrate a high-resolution image sensor and operate it as a digital camera that is sensitive to UV, visible and infrared light (300 – 2000 nm). The demonstrated graphene-CMOS integration is pivotal for incorporating 2d materials into the next generation microelectronics, sensor arrays, low-power integrated photonics and CMOS imaging systems covering visible, infrared and even terahertz frequencies."

At a closer look, the sensing layer is, actually, "PbS colloidal quantum dots: upon light absorption an electron-hole pair is generated, due to the built in electric field the hole transfers to the graphene while the electron remains trapped in the quantum dots:"

"Due to the high mobility of graphene (here ~1000 cm2/Vs), this photoconductor structure exhibits ultra-high gain of 10^8 and responsivity above 10^7 A/W, which is a strong improvement compared to photodetectors and imaging systems based on quantum dots only."

The sample images are quite nice for a first graphene image sensor ever produced:

"Future graphene-based image sensors can be designed to operate at higher resolution, in a broader wavelength range, and potentially even with a form factor that fits inside a smartphone or smartwatch (Supplementary Notes, Figure S9). In contrast to current hybrid imaging technologies (which are not monolithic), we do not encounter fundamental limits with respect to shrinking the pixel size and increasing the imager resolution. Graphene patterning and contacting, i.e. lithography, will ultimately be the limiting factor. Therefore, competitively performing image sensors with multi-megapixel resolutions and pixel pitches down to 1 µm are within reach."

A somewhat similar paper, albeit from different authors, is going to be presented at ISSCC 2017 Session 15 on Feb. 7:

"15.7 Heterogeneous Integrated CMOS-Graphene Sensor Array for Dopamine Detection," B. Nasri, T. Wu, A. Alharbi, M. Gupta, R. Ranjit Kumar, S. Sebastian, Y. Wang, R. Kiani, D. Shahrjerdi, New York University, Brooklyn, NY.