Saturday, October 10, 2015

Yole: Apple Camera Innovations Slowing Down?

i-Micronews: Yole Developpement analysts Pierre Cambou and Guillaume Girardin wrote an analysis of iPhone 6s and 6s Plus camera technology. Their conclusion is that Apple camera module team becomes less innovative over time:

"We’ll have to wait another year for the iPhone’s big hardware update. Video is the new innovation paradigm, followed most likely by 3D imaging within a few years. Now that the competition is closing in on Apple’s proposition, Apple must make a significant technological leap forward. Our take on this is that such a leap is definitely possible, and even underway. It could involve the Linx technology Apple acquired last year, the integration of STMicroelectronics’ laser ranging technology, and probably even more..."

Friday, October 09, 2015

Melexis ToF Sensor to Use Sony CIS Process

Melexis signs a licensing agreement with Sony to keep using Softkinetic technology in its automotive ToF sensors. Melexis has been Softkinetic licensee for a number of years for products such as the MLX75023, said to be the world’s first automotive ToF sensor in production.

Now, Melexis will collaborate with Sony to further expand this technology. The products derived from this collaboration will be fabricated at Sony’s world-class wafer fabrication facility in image sensor technology and support its offering in the area of gesture recognition.

Francoise Chombar, CEO Melexis, comments: “The combination of Sony's superior image sensor technology and our year-long automotive sensor know-how and experience provides an exciting new platform for enhancing the Time-of-Flight technology. This innovative technology could change dramatically the way drivers communicate with their vehicles. No more touch screens or knobs, but a simple gesture might suffice in the future.

ON Semi, GEO Semi, and GainSpan to Collaborate on IoT

BusinessWire: ON Semiconductor is collaborating with GainSpan and GEO Semiconductor to rapidly respond to the growing potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). Through this partnership, customers will benefit from the leadership each company has shown in its respective field: ON Semiconductor’s advanced and expansive portfolio of image sensors, GEO’s highly cost-effective and power efficient image signal processing technology, and GainSpan’s expertise in low power Wi-Fi solutions.

A highly optimized IoT video reference design based on AR0330 image sensor is the trio’s first collaboration. The GS-AR0330-Based Full HD Video, available via GainSpan and its distributors, targets smart 1080p video streaming over Wi-Fi.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Toshiba Presents Image Sensor for Iris Recognition

BusinessWire: Toshiba launches T4KE1, a near-infrared 2.1MP BSI sensor that supports iris recognition on mobile devices. Sample shipments start today.

T4KE1 is a 2.1 MP 1.12um BSI CMOS image sensor with a 1/7.3 inch optical format and 60fps at 1080p image output. The new sensor captures images for recognition with higher sensitivity than conventional CMOS image sensors, as it discards the usual color filter in the pixel structure, increasing sensitivity in the near infrared spectrum.

PRNewswire: "This is an exciting time for the image sensor business, as new applications and technologies are affording electronics manufacturers wider opportunities for improving their devices' capabilities," said Andrew Burt, VP of the Image Sensor Business Unit, System LSI Group at TAEC. "Toshiba is helping device makers meet these growing requirements by continually introducing innovative technology into our CMOS image sensor family, such as the NIR iris recognition in our new T4KE1."

Sony Acquires Softkinetic

Sony has completed the acquisition of Softkinetic Systems S.A., after reaching an agreement with the company and its major shareholders. With this acquisition, Softkinetic - which possesses ToF image sensor technology, as well as related systems and software - has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony.

Sony will focus on combining Softkinetic's ToF range image sensor technology expertise with its own technologies with the aim of developing the next generation of range image sensors and solutions, not only in the field of imaging, but for broader sensing-related applications as well.

Overview of Softkinetic Systems S.A.

Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium
Employees: 77
Business offices: Brussels, Belgium; Sunnyvale, CA, USA
Primary areas of business:
  • Development and licensing of ToF range image sensors
  • Development and licensing of range imaging software, such as for range image signal processing and gesture recognition
  • Development of ToF range image sensor modules and reference designs

SPI Posts Color Videos at Starlight with No Moon

The latest crop of SPI color night vision videos specifically states that they are shot at starlight with now moon. The first video uses 50mm F1.2 lens:

The second video was shot with 80mm F1.4 lens:

Light Co. Announces its First Product

Light Co. introduces its first multi-aperture camera product. The L16 camera will retail for $1,699 and ship in late summer 2016. A limited quantity will be available for pre-order through November 6, 2015 at a special price of $1,299. The camera offers:
  • Adjust focus and depth of field even after a photo is taken, all the way to f/1.2
  • Built-in 35-150mm true optical zoom
  • Exceptional low light performance
  • Low image noise
  • 3 fast prime lenses
  • DSLR quality images up to 52MP
The company's Vimeo video talks about the camera design:

Update: Imaging Resource adds few more details about the L16 camera:

"L16 packs in sixteen 13-megapixel camera modules at three different focal lengths – 35mm (5), 70mm (5) and 150mm (6) – for a total of 52-megapixels. Each of these modules captures an individual image, which is then stitched together via software to yield a photo that Light claims is equal to the quality of a DSLR with a large lens attached."

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Cadence Announces Tensilica Vision P5 IP Core

PRNewswire: Cadence Tensilica Vision P5 processor core offers up to 13X performance boost, with an average of 5X less energy usage on vision tasks compared to the previous generation IVP-EP imaging and video DSP. The Vision P5 DSP is built from the ground up for applications requiring ultra-high memory and operation parallelism to support complex vision processing at high resolution and high frame rates. It is aimed to off-loading vision and imaging functions from the main CPU to increase throughput and reduce power. End-user applications that can benefit from the DSP's capabilities include image and video enhancement, stereo and 3D imaging, depth map processing, robotic vision, face detection and authentication, augmented reality, object tracking, object avoidance and advanced noise reduction.

The Vision P5 core includes an expanded and optimized Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) targeting mobile, ADAS (which includes pedestrian detection, traffic sign recognition, lane tracking, adaptive cruise control, and accident avoidance) and IoT systems.

The Vision P5 core includes these new features:
  • Wide 1024-bit memory interface with SuperGather technology for maximum performance on the complex data patterns of vision processing
  • Up to 4 vector ALU operations per cycle, each with up to 64-way data parallelism
  • Up to 5 instructions issued per cycle from 128-bit wide instruction delivering increased operation parallelism
  • Enhanced 8-,16- and 32-bit ISA tuned for vision/imaging applications
  • Optional 16-way IEEE single-precision vector floating-point processing unit delivering a massive 32GFLOPs at 1GHz

EETimes believes that such kind of a processor could increase the number of cameras in smartphone from 2 to 4.

Sony Image Sensor Split "is both expected and surprising"

CCTV News quotes IHS analyst Brian O'Rourke giving Sony image sensor market share numbers for Q2 2015:

Sony image sensor business spin-off is called "both expected and surprising at the same time. Over the past two years, Sony has spun out its audio and video business (February 2015), and its TV and PC businesses (February 2014). However, the semiconductor spin out is different. While the TV, PC and A/V businesses had been struggling to some extent with increased competition and a slow-growing world economy, the semiconductor business has generated a significant amount of Sony's recent revenues and profitability. The semiconductor business is highlighted by image sensors, a historically successful and profitable business for Sony.
Today, it dominates the CMOS image sensor business, with Q2 2015 revenues of slightly over USD1 billion, good for over 42% of the worldwide market, nearly three times the revenue of its closest competitor, Samsung Electronics.
Why interfere with a good thing? The current Sony corporate structure seemed to be working well enough to ensure image sensor success. How will the new Sony Semiconductor Solutions benefit the image sensor business? The answer may be in simplifying a corporate structure so that Sony can react more rapidly.

Omnivision Acquisition Advances One More Step

PRNewswire: OmniVision received a notice from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States ("CFIUS") that it has concluded its review of the proposed acquisition of OmniVision by a consortium composed of Hua Capital Management Co., Ltd., CITIC Capital Holdings Limited, and GoldStone Investment Co., Ltd., and determined that there are no unresolved national security concerns with respect to the proposed acquisition. OmniVision expects the proposed acquisition to close in the third or fourth fiscal quarter of fiscal year 2016.