Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hitachi Adds Image Sensor to its Air Conditioners

Hitachi iSee air conditioners use image sensors to directs cool air towards people, based on face detection:

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Deep Learning Vision in USB Stick

MarketWired: Movidius introduces the powerful deep learning vision processing accelerator that fits into a USB Stick. It connects to existing systems and increases the performance of neural networking tasks by 20-30X. It performs at over 150GFLOPS while consuming under 1.2W.

Called Fathom, it targets developers, researchers, hobbyists and anyone developing deep learning applications.

Facebook's Director of Artificial Intelligence Yann LeCunn has said this about Fathom: “The Fathom neural compute stick is a compact, low-power deep learning accelerator for embedded applications that is quite unique. As a researcher and builder of intelligent machines, I've been dreaming of getting my hands on something like the Fathom USB key for a long time”.

Movidius CEO, Remi El-Ouazzane says: “It’s going to mean that very soon, consumers are going to be introduced to surprisingly smart applications and products. It means the same level of surprise and delight we saw at the beginning of the smartphone revolution; we’re going to see again with the machine intelligence revolution. With more than 1 million units of Myriad 2 already ordered, we want to make our VPU the de-facto standard when it comes to embedded deep neural network.

Movidius publishes a Youtube video presenting the new product:

ST Expresses Optimism on its Imaging Business Future

SeekingAlpha's ST Q1 2016 Earnings Call transcript has few words on its imaging business, primarily in Q&A section:

Günther Hollfelder - Baader Bank AG:

First question is on imaging systems, so what sort of sales level do you expect for imaging systems in 2016, and what sort of related loss this year for this business?

Carlo Bozotti - ST President & CEO:

I think we expect, first of all, the sequential improvement in the top line on our business, on imaging. And also an year-over-year improvement broad comparing Q2 2016 to Q2 2015, as I said before. And moving on during the course of 2016, we see additional opportunity for both sequential and year-over-year growth. As far as profitability performance, we do not provide the performance, we do not provide the quantification at the division level, but we see some good opportunities, and we see the evolution of this business also in terms of financial performance with a degree of optimism.

Sony 2015 Annual Report

Sony announces annual results for its fiscal 2015 year ended on March 31, 2016.

Update: SeekingAlpha earnings call transcript gives some info about Kumamoto TEC smartphone products:

"Looking forward to fiscal year '16, our target is to record a profit. A portion of the image sensors used in our smartphones and a portion of camera modules used in our smartphones are made at Kumamoto TEC and there is a possibility that the status of these production lines might have an adverse impact on the results of this business."

On the image sensor and camera module business, Sony says:

"An operating loss of ¥28.6 billion was recorded in fiscal year '15, significant deterioration of ¥117.6 billion compared to the previous fiscal year. As we announced last week, we recorded ¥59.6 billion impairment charge against fixed assets in the camera module business in the fourth quarter.

We first entered the camera module business in the later part of fiscal year '13. However, our ramp in manufacturing has been slower than expected, and we recorded a large impairment charges as a result.

We thought that we could increase yields and profit margins through automation of the assembly process. But, precisely because we did increase automation, we have limited ability to adapt to changes in specifications and demand. Currently, we are re‐considering the optimal size of this business.

In the image sensor business, which account for the majority of sales and profit in the devices segment, we are currently expanding our sales efforts, primarily to Chinese smartphone manufacturers, and orders are strong, but demand is not expected to recover in earnest until the second half of the fiscal year '16.

3rd Sony's Update on Kumamoto Fab Starus

Sony updates on the Kumamoto fab status today: Operations at Sony's Kumamoto Technology Center (located in Kikuchi Gun, Kumamoto Prefecture), which is the primary manufacturing site of image sensors for digital cameras and security cameras, were halted and currently remain suspended. With aftershocks continuing and employee safety the foremost priority, inspections of the facility and the development of a recovery plan remain ongoing. The current status of operations for the Kumamoto Technology Center is as follows:
  • Damage to the building itself has been confirmed to be primarily to the upper layer of the building, and reinforcement work will be carried out in this area.
  • The clean rooms used for wafer processing and manufacturing equipment, both located on the lower layer of the building have not been significantly damaged, and preparations are now underway to resume production. Manufacturing operations are targeted to resume around the end of May 2016.
  • Regarding back-end processes, such as assembly and measurement, as well as processing operations for components such as camera modules, which are carried out on the upper layer of the building, Sony has confirmed that there is damage to the clean rooms, manufacturing equipment and other equipment. Further analysis of the extent of this damage is currently underway.
  • Damage to finished product inventory such as image sensors at Kumamoto Technology Center is limited, and shipments of these products have already resumed. The status of semi-finished and uncompleted products is currently being confirmed.
The impact of the earthquakes on Sony Corporation's consolidated results continues to be evaluated. In the Devices segment, there is expected to be direct physical damage to Kumamoto Technology Center. Sony expects to incur expenses primarily for recovery and reinforcement work in response to the physical damage to the relevant portion of the Kumamoto Technology Center. Sony may also incur large opportunity losses, mainly in the Devices and Imaging Products & Solutions segments due to suspension of production for a certain period of time.

In addition, due to the suspension of manufacturing operations at Kumamoto Technology Center and potential disruption to the supply of components to Sony from certain third-party suppliers that also have manufacturing facilities in the Kumamoto region, it is possible that business operations within the Mobile Communications, Game & Network Services and Home Entertainment & Sound segments also may be affected. This potential impact is currently being evaluated.

Update: SeekingAlpha earnings call transcript explains more on the fab structure:

"Kumamoto TEC is extremely close to the epicenter of the - the largest earthquake that happened on April 16. It is a primary manufacturing site for image sensors for digital cameras and security cameras, as well as for the micro displays that go into projectors.

Kumamoto TEC has a bilayer structure with clean rooms in each layer. The clean rooms in the lower layer contain our wafer processing equipment and the clean rooms in the upper layer contain our testing equipment, camera module production equipment and other equipment.

The clean rooms in the lower layer, and the production treatment inside these clean rooms have not sustained significant damage. Since yesterday we have begun to start‐up the equipment in those clean rooms, and we expect to resume production in these rooms around the end of May.

On the other hand, the upper layer clean rooms did sustain damage and we are not able to say yet when we will restart operations. Damage to Kumamoto TEC's finished goods inventory is limited, and we are currently inspecting the status of its work‐in‐ progress inventory.

In the Devices segment, we expect there to be direct physical damage to Kumamoto TEC, and we expect to incur expenses primarily for recovery and reinforcement work. In addition, there is a possibility that large opportunity losses will be incurred, mainly in the Devices and Imaging Products & Solutions segments due to suspension of production at Kumamoto for a certain period of time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hyperspectral Imaging Intro

Photonics publishes a hyperspectral imaging video introduction by Greg Staples from Bayspec:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

GPixel Announces 95% QE Scientific Sensor

BusinessWire: Tucsen and Gpixel launch the Dhyana 95, a 95% QE camera utilizing BSI sensor technology.

Gpixel has commenced sampling of GSENSE400BSI-TVISB, an upgrade of its existing BSI sensor. The new version of the sensor offers a high QE of 95% at 580nm.

The Dhyana 95 with 2K x 2K resolution, 11um square pixel and readout noise of only 1.3 electrons, represents a viable alternative to EMCCD based cameras.

With 100,000 electron full well capacity and 93dB dynamic range, the Dhyana 95 provides excellent image quality in high contrast applications, at up to 35fps full frame and greater than 100fps at 1K x 1K resolution. Dark noise is minimized through -25℃ cooling of the hermetic sensor chamber.

Tucsen plans to release both cooled and uncooled versions of Dhyana 95 to meet the diverse needs of a broad range of users.

FLIR Explains Need for High Speed Thermal Camera

FLIR publishes a Youtube video on high speed thermal camera and its applications:

Barack Obama and Angela Merkel Test PMD Technology

Gizmodo, The Verge, ABC: The US President Obama and German Chancellor Merkel visited the Hannovermesse and tried on a Google Cardboard with pmd CamBoard pico flexx + handtracking Software from gestigon.

Monday, April 25, 2016

FLIR Presents Boson

FLIR's VP Dan Walker presents Boson, an intelligent LWIR camera module with Movidius vision processor, in the Youtube video: