Friday, May 22, 2015

IC Insights: Sharp CIS Sales Surge

IC Insights posts its updated list of top 20 semiconductor companies. This time, Sharp has entered the list as #19. IC Insight writes: "Although Sharp as a whole is having a difficult time, its semiconductor group, which represents only about 14% of the company’s corporate sales, posted a whopping 62% growth rate (an 88% increase in yen), the best 1Q15 sales increase of any top-20 semiconductor supplier. This sales surge was almost entirely due to the company’s success in the CMOS image sensor market."

Update: Sharp's medium term management plan dated by May 14, 2015, reveals quite ambitious plans over the next few years:

The company notes: "Sharp has the leading share in the industry for smartphone camera devices, but since specific customers weight a large proportion of our business, we will aggressively work to expand our sales to new customers, and target 3 times the net sales of Fiscal 2014 by Fiscal 2017."

Invisage Videos Deleted

Invisage has removed all its nice videos from Youtube. There is only one left in the Invisage Tube channel:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Toshiba Image Sensor Circus Continues

Toshiba updates its popular explanations of image sensor work it started in 2013. The new CMOS Image Circus series compares image sensor with human eye, talk about image sensor features and more:

PMD Announces ToF Camera for AR and VR Devices

PMD announces pico flexx, a version of pico ToF camera optimized for augmented and virtual reality devices, featuring higher speed, longer distance and lower power:

PMD also publishes a Youtube demo of the new camera:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

IHS on Omnivision Acquisition

IHS publishes its analysts opinions on implications of Omnivision acquisition by Chinese investment companies. Few quotes:

"One of the greatest concerns regarding China-backed Hua Capital Management Co. Ltd.’s proposed acquisition of OmniVision Technologies Inc. is that it would give OmniVision an unfair advantage over other image-sensor vendors, with Chinese firms favoring Omnivision products over others. But, according to IHS, this scenario is unlikely to play out.

...the vast majority of OmniVision’s current business is already in China. O’Rourke says about 75% of OmniVision’s 2014 revenues came from China-based companies.

“In this situation, there’s not a great deal of room left for OmniVision’s growth in China," O’Rourke says. "Thus, the question of Chinese companies or the Chinese government favoring it may be irrelevant.”

...the funding groups bought OmniVision mainly for a “capital operation” and will have the company listed in the China stock market to gain a sizable return.

Wang says he believes OmniVision will invest heavily in the near term—including spending more on R&D to develop high-end products—in order to help the company catch up with image sensor heavyweights Sony and Samsung.

Sony Presents New Generation Global Shutter Sensors with 3.45um Pixel

Sony announces 5.07MP 2/3-inch IMX250LLR/LQR and 3.2MP 1/1.8-inch IMX252LLR/LQR sensors featuring a new generation global shutter pixel. Sony says that the new 3.45um pixels are industry's smallest global shutter pixels for industrial applications. The pixels feature improved sensitivity, 1.1 times over the company's previous generation of 5.86 ┬Ám pixels. In addition, EXview HAD CCD technology is said to increases sensitivity in NIR (see the bigger 800 x 670 pictures on Sony site):

The sensors are fairly fast, slightly faster than the previous generation IMX174:

Sony also publishes a Youtube video showing a global shutter advantage:

Pelican Gets New COO

PRNewswire: Pelican Imaging announces that Mark Fulks has joined the company as COO to lead engineering and product development for Pelican's depth-sensing array solutions. Prior to joining Pelican, Fulks led Nokia's product and engineering teams that created Nokia's augmented reality product, Nokia City Lens, and led the core development teams at Sun Microsystems for Java ME (J2ME). He began his career as an embedded systems software engineer, after earning his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science with a minor in Physics from Sonoma State University. Fulks holds several patents related to augmented reality interfaces and displays.

"Pelican Imaging is uniquely positioned to achieve success across multiple growth markets. I'm very excited to join as COO, leading the engineering and product development teams to bring this disruptive 3D imaging technology to consumers," said Fulks.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

e2v Reports Yearly Results

e2v reports preliminary results for its fiscal year ended on March 31, 2015. For the imaging business, the report states:

Steve Blair, e2v CEO, comments on the last year's Anafocus acquisition "We are pleased with the performance of AnaFocus since its acquisition in September and it has already been successfully integrated. Overall, we have delivered a good performance, including a strong finish to the year, in what remained challenging markets."

Monday, May 18, 2015

Omnivision News: MIPI over Fiber, 3DInCites Award Nomination

PRNewswire: OmniVision and Silicon Line GmbH announced a collaboration to bring high-speed image and video data transfer technology to applications that are noise-sensitive and that require longer, thinner and lighter cables. This collaboration will focus on 1080p30 video transfer over 2-lane 1Gbps MIPI for OmniVision's OV5693 sensor, as well as other MIPI D-PHY 1.1, 1.2, 2.0 and MIPI C-PHY-based imaging solutions.

"We believe that Silicon Line's approach to high-speed data transfer, and the inherent benefits that its optical link technology brings to our mutual target markets, can help overcome many technical challenges faced by product engineers today," said Tehzeeb Gunja, senior marketing and business development manager at OmniVision. "The ability to affordably and power-efficiently transfer large amounts of uncompressed video data over long distances carries a tremendous potential for positive impact on a number of application areas."

"As OmniVision extends its portfolio with higher resolution and higher frame rate image sensors, the required data rate for transporting the image increases dramatically," said Ian Jackson, senior manager sales and marketing at Silicon Line. "A single optical fiber can transport up to 25 Gbps of data. This has obvious benefits in terms of size and weight reductions, enabling smaller and lighter industrial designs for space-constrained applications like tablets and notebooks. Another benefit of optical fiber is zero susceptibility to electromagnetic interference, which enables a noise free picture. Lastly, optical technology can transport high-speed image data over many meters whereas a traditional electrical connection is limited to 10 or 20 cm, making optical technology well-suited for applications such as automotive, medical and security imaging systems." (Actually, a single optical fiber transmits 100Gbps since 2012 in commercial products, and, this year, 200Gbps would be probably commercialized - ISW.)

3DInCites nominates OmniVision’s 23.8MP OV23850 PureCel stacked sensor for 3D Excellence Award. OV23850 "gives 3D manufacturing visibility across numerous application areas, including automotive, medical, mobile devices, and wearables."

3D News: Orbbec, Chiaro, OptAssyst

Shenzhen, China-based Orbbec starts to accept pre-orders for its structured light 3D cameras: a longer range Astra, and a shorter range Astra S. Both Astra cameras are supposed to be compatible with discontinued after acquisition by Apple Primesense cameras and its NUI middleware:

Orbbec comes up with a series of comparison videos against Primesense, Kinect-1 and Kinect-2 cameras.

Thanks to HJ for the pointer.

Boulder, CO-based Chiaro Technologies presents its 3D sensing technology based on patented Symbolic Light. Chiaro's camera consists of a sensor head and a decoding API for either a PC host or an embedded system. The efficient 3D decoding improves frame-rate while leaving a room for application. Cloudburst is designed with machine vision in mind.

Chiaro camera is said to excel in building 3D maps of reflective objects, such as metallic ones:

Two coins and a machined part on a black-and-white checker pattern. Under low lights in a 12-bit image (a), specular reflections saturate the camera while the checker pattern remains dim. Typical 3D capture (b) misses regions of the 3D point cloud. Chiaro’s XDI-3D system with HDR (c) can capture 3D images of this scene, capturing everything from the black squares to the shiny surfaces of coins, all under regular ambient lighting conditions.

Meanwhile, German Optassyst drives an ISO initiative "Fair Datasheet" to define a standard way to write datasheets for 3D depth cameras, so that customers can easily compare their performance and merits. The proposed ISO standard definitions mainly target machine vision and industrial 3D cameras.

Thanks to TL for the link!