Monday, October 20, 2014

Omnivision Announces Two Automotive Sensors with Red-Clear Filters

PR Newswire: OmniVision announces additions to its portfolio of OmniHDR automotive sensors: the 1.3MP/60fps BSI OV10642 and the WVGA/60fps OV10625. Both the OV10642 and the OV10625 are said to deliver top-level sensitivity and HDR performance in their respective market segments. The sensors also use a special red-clear filter that is required for many forward-looking automotive applications. These benefits ADAS systems, including lane departure warning, blind spot detection and traffic signal detection, among others.

"As more automobiles adopt image sensor technology to enhance safety and the driving experience, the importance of high quality imaging and reliable sensing technology cannot be overstated," said Inayat Khajasha, senior product marketing manager for automotive products at OmniVision. "With industry-leading HDR and ultra-low light sensitivity, these sensors are capable of supporting highly advanced vehicle sensing systems deployed in the latest vehicle platforms."

The 1/2.6-inch 4.2um pixel-based OV10642 fits into a compact 7.4 x 7.2 mm package and supports 120dB HDR mode. The 1/3.2-inch 6um pixel-based WVGA OV10625 too delivers HDR of up to 120 dB and best-in-class low-light sensitivity of 15 V/Lux-sec and fits into one of the industry's most compact and efficient 7.3 x 7.8 mm package.

Both sensors are currently sampling and are expected to enter volume production in Q4 2014.

Khronos Releases OpenVX 1.0 Spec 
for Computer Vision Acceleration

Khronos Group announces the public release of the OpenVX 1.0 specification, an open, royalty-free standard for cross platform acceleration of computer vision applications. OpenVX enables performance and power-optimized computer vision processing for embedded and real-time uses such as face, body and gesture tracking, smart video surveillance, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), object and scene reconstruction, augmented reality, visual inspection, robotics and more. The full OpenVX 1.0 specification and details about the OpenVX Adopters Program are available at

Increasingly powerful and efficient processors and image sensors are enabling engineers to incorporate visual intelligence into a wide range of systems and applications,” said Jeff Bier, founder of the Embedded Vision Alliance. “A key challenge for engineers is efficiently mapping complex algorithms onto the processor best suited to the application. OpenVX is an important step towards easing this challenge.

The OpenVX spec is supported by many well known companies:

Stereo Machine Vision Example

FLIR Promotes its LWIR-VIS Fusion Technology

FLIR One Youtube video says that two sensors are better than one:

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Sony Presents Industrial Version of its Highly Sensitive Sensor

Sony presents an industrial version of its 3.75um pixel-based highly sensitive sensor, previously announced for automotive applications. The lineup for industrial applications includes the IMX224LQR, with WDR function, and the IMX225LQR with now WDR. Most of the spec is shared with the automotive version, including minimum subject illumination of 0.005 lx or less at a gain of 72dB, but some parts are explained in more details:

"The IMX224LQR supports a DOL (digital overlap)-type WDR function. This function uses a method that outputs the data for three frames with different storage times line by line instead of frame by frame, enabling improvement of picture quality especially under low illumination compared to the existing multiple exposure WDR function." The sensors feature a nice set of interfaces: LVDS, 4-lane MIPI CSI-2 with 594 Mbps/lane, and CMOS parallel.

Sony shows a higher resolution image shot at 0.05 lux (10x of the stated minimum) with F1.4 lens at 30fps and internal gain of 60dB (click to expand to 799x597 pix image):

Another recent announcement is system LSI for entry-level IP security cameras, the CXD4145GG, supporting ISP and H.264 encoding at 30fps up to 3MP, or 15fps for 5MP:

Friday, October 17, 2014

LensVector and Sunny Announce The World’s Smallest 5MP AF Camera

PR Web: LensVector and Sunny Opotech announce what they say is the world’s smallest 5MP autofocus camera, P5S10A, aimed to low cost smartphones. The P5S10A combines LensVector’s solid-state LV4519 autofocus with Sunny’s 3531 base lens and a small 5MP sensor in a compact size measuring 6.5 mm x 6.5 mm x 4.6mm. The module can fit both main cameras and high-end front facing cameras.

Our LV4519 autofocus device contains no moving parts, which is a huge step up from electro mechanical alternatives. We're also smaller, easier to integrate and require less power than other options,” said Howard Earhart, CEO at LensVector. “Through our relationship with a world-leading camera module supplier like Sunny, we’re creating a new generation of miniature autofocus cameras for the rapidly growing budget smartphone market.

Sunny Opotech is pleased to offer the world’s smallest autofocus camera, powered by LensVector’s LV4519 solid-state autofocus device,” said David Wang, GM at Sunny Opotech. “P5S10A was created to deliver high performance at lower costs for the rapidly growing smartphone market where size and affordability are critically important.

The camera is currently sampling and is expected to enter volume production in early 2015.

LensVector's Gen3 AF device spec, including the driver with integrated heater and temperature sensor:

In another news, LensVector founder, Tigran Galstian, received Canadian Ernest Manning Innovation Award for development liquid crystal technology to replace the mechanical focus in camera phones.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sony Announces High Sensitivity Sensor for Automotive Applications

Sony announces the IMX224MQV 1/3-inch 1.27MP CMOS sensor for automotive cameras, said to have the world's highest sensitivity levels of any image sensor of its kind (for type 1/3 image sensors with HD or higher resolution, based on Sony research, as of the announcement date, October 16, 2014). The new sensor is capable of capturing high-resolution color images in light conditions as low as 0.005 lux, a level equivalent to that of a moonless night and one that is far below illumination levels under a star-filled night sky. The is set to become Sony's first image sensor for automotive cameras to meet the requirements of the AEC-Q100 reliability tests. The sensor sampling starts on Nov. 2014, mass production is planned for Dec. 2015.

The IMX224MQV sensor has 2,350mV (standard F5.6) sensitivity, a level of sensitivity that is around twice that of older Sony IMX238LQJ sensor with 3.75um pixels and the industry's highest. This was achieved through the adoption of photo diodes that improve the conversion efficiency of light into electrons and through the addition of circuits that improve the conversion efficiency of those electrons into voltage. Also, a PGA with a gain up to 72 dB further contributes to the ultimate achievement of a minimum object illuminance of 0.005 lux. With this design, it now becomes possible to capture high-resolution color images even on a dark road at night with no stars to illuminate the surroundings.

This image sensor also supports a WDR that allows for extended exposure time, which, when compared to conventional multi-exposure WDR systems, makes possible improved image quality in low light conditions when combined with a compatible ISP (Mass production of compatible ISP from Sony is planned on June 2016). Furthermore, the sensor's pixel has an improved NIR sensitivity for better object recognition when used in with NIR LED illumination.

IMX224MQV image captured at 0.005 lux
(F1.4, 16.7ms exposure, 72 dB gain)

Going forward, Sony intends to expand its image sensor reach beyond the realm of digital imaging devices and into the arena of "sensing" as well. Building off products such as the "IMX224MQV," Sony will pioneer and tap into a new market for image sensors that are capable of acquiring and discerning information from captured images such as objects' distance, movement, shape, and color, for use in vehicles and elsewhere.

IRLYNX and Leti Announce Collaboration

IRLYNX and CEA-Leti announce a technology-development partnership for a new CMOS-based infrared technology that will allow a new type of smart and connected detectors in buildings and cities.

Leti’s Silicon Development Division and the Optics and Photonics Division will develop a technology platform for IRLYNX in the field of human-activity detection and characterization. IRLYNX is focusing for its part on a specific IC design, a customized optic integration and the “on-die” data processing of such human-sensing-activity module. These products will be able to count people, distinguish humans, get positions and determine posture for applications in energy saving, safety and security and human/object interactions.

The collaboration is based on the development of specific microelectronic steps above CMOS IC and on the hosting of IRLYNX R&D’s activities inside Leti’s clean-room facilities.

Through this strong partnership with CEA-Leti, we continue to deploy our strategic plan as expected. The capacities and how-know of Leti in advanced-technologies development are really an advantage for IRLYNX. With this agreement and Leti’s support, we are shortening our time to market,” said S├ębastien Fabre, IRLYNX CEO.

"The collaboration with IRLYNX highlights Leti’s mission to support startup initiatives and emphasizes our expertise in IR imaging devices and technologies," said Bruno Mourey, VP of Leti’s Optics and Photonics Division. “IRLYNX is a very good match for Leti, because the IRLYNX team has an innovative IC design, clear optic-integration goals and a persuasive business plan.

With its recent first round of funding, which raised 1M€, IRLYNX will be able to deliver first products in Q3 2015.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ITE Special Section on Image Sensors and Imaging Systems

Japan ITE (Institute of Image Information and Television Engineers) Transactions on Media Technology and Applications announces a forthcoming Special Section on “Image Sensors and Imaging Systems” to be published in October 2015. The objective of the special section is focus on the image sensors and imaging systems technologies, architectures, devices, methods, and their applications. You are strongly encouraged to submit original research papers of the topics which include:

  • Image sensor technologies
  • Image sensor applications
  • Imaging systems
  • Related process and circuit technologies
  • Next-generation technologies for image sensors and imaging systems

Papers must be submitted by February 2, 2015.

Forza Pixel Combines Rolling and Global Shutters

Vision Systems Design publishes an article "CMOS Imagers Look to Increase Dynamic Range" by Andrew Wilson presenting Forza Silicon's 4-way shared pixel combining rolling and global shutters:

Every fourth pixel pixel has a global shutter, which is said to enable rolling shutter artifacts removal in the subsequent processing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rumor: Apple is Establishing CIS Design Center in France, ST Lays Off

According to unconfirmed rumors, Apple has approached an individual who used to work for ST with a view to set up an Apple imaging center in the Grenoble area. Apparently, Apple is getting interested in ST's SPAD technology used in LG G3 for AF. The ex-ST individual is working to broker Apple access to this technology, based in Grenoble.

Seeing the recent stream of ToF patents from Primesense-Apple, one can speculate that Apple is contemplating the use of ST SPADs in its oncoming 3D camera.

Meanwhile, ST is reducing its image sensor footprint on the Edinburgh, Scotland site, pulling out of doing optical modules in the wake of continued reduced market share. Reportedly, Apple has had a recruitment day for image sensor designers in Edinburgh, with very select invites.

Update: The post has been updated according to a request I've received.