Saturday, September 26, 2020

DVS Pixel Bias Self-Calibration

 Tobi Delbruk and Zhenming Yu from Zurich University publish a video presentation explaining their ISCAS 2020 paper "Self Calibration of Wide Dynamic Range Bias Current Generators ISCAS."

"Many neuromorphic chips now include on-chip, digitally programmable bias generator circuits. So far, precision of these generated biases has been designed by transistor sizing and circuit design to ensure tolerable statistical variance due to threshold mismatch. This paper reports the use of an integrated measurement circuit based on spiking neuron and a scheme for calibrating each chip set of biases against the smallest of all the biases from that chip. That way, the averaging across individual biases improves overall matching both within a chip and across chips. This paper includes measurements of generated biases, the method for remapping bias values towards more uniform values, and measurements across 5 sample chips. With the method presented in this paper, 1σ mismatch of subthreshold currents is decreased by at least a factor of 3. The firmware implementation completes calibration in about a minute and uses about 1kB of flash storage of calibration data."

CIS Prices in China

I came across an article talking about CIS prices in China in the second half of 2018. This somewhat outdated info gives an indication of how low the prices can be for a fairly complicated device:

Once we are talking about Galaxycore, the company has been requested to compare its sensors performance with others on the market while preparing its IPO. Galaxycore claims that it's similar to the market leaders.

Brigates has changed its name to Ruixin Microelectronics and prepares an IPO at the valuation of 1B yuan. The company has lost the money in 2017-208, then turned a profit in 2019:

"In the past three years, Ruixin Micro's revenue was 52.197 million yuan, 146 million yuan and 253 million yuan respectively. In 2017 and 2018, net losses were 15.1624 million yuan and 279 million yuan respectively. In 2019, it turned losses into profits, with net profit of 52.117 million yuan. Based on this, Ruixinwei finally chose a listing standard with an estimated market value of not less than 1 billion yuan, a positive net profit in the most recent year, and an operating income of not less than 100 million yuan."

Meanwhile, Omnivision's mother company Will Semi share price rose by 20x since its IPO 3 years ago:

Broadcom Expands ToF Sensor Lineup

 Broadcom keeps quietly expanding its ToF sensors lineup:

Friday, September 25, 2020

Automotive News: Cepton, Ouster, Voyant Photonics, Mobileye

BusinessWire: Cepton announces its automotive-grade lidar – the Vista-X90, priced at less than $1000 for high volume applications. It is said to set a new benchmark for high performance at low power in a compact form factor. Weighing less than 900 g, the Vista-X90 achieves up to 200 m range at 10% reflectivity with an angular resolution of 0.13° and power consumption of <12W. The sensor supports frame rates of up to 40 Hz.

With a width of 120 mm, depth of 110 mm and a front-facing height of <45 mm, Vista-X90 is compact and embeddable. Its 90° x 25° field of view, combined with its directional, non-rotational design allows seamless vehicle integration - such as in the fascia, behind the windshield or on the roof.

Vista-X90 has a licensable design architecture powered by Cepton’s patented Micro Motion Technology (MMT) – a frictionless, mirrorless, rotation-free lidar architecture. Cepton has licensed its technology to the world’s largest automotive headlamp Tier 1, Koito, who has non-exclusive rights to manufacture and sell Cepton’s lidar technology for an automotive applications, using key modules supplied by Cepton.

We are excited to disrupt the industry with the Vista-X90, which is the most cost-effective, high-performance lidar in the world for automotive applications,” said Jun Pei, Cepton’s CEO. “Automotive lidars have historically had either low performance at acceptable cost or claimed high performance while being too expensive for many OEM programs. The Vista-X90 fundamentally changes the game by bridging that divide and delivering the optimal mix of performance, power, reliability and cost. This is an integral part of our plan to make lidar available as an essential safety device in every consumer vehicle in the world.

The Vista-X90 is targeted for production in 2022 and beyond, and samples can be made available upon request.

Yole publishes an interview with Ouster CEO Angus Pacala "A rising star in the LiDAR landscape – An interview with Ouster." Few quotes:

"Since our founding in 2015, Ouster has secured over 800 customers and $140 million in funding. Our headquarters is in San Francisco, and we have offices in ​Paris, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, and Suzhou.

At the time, nobody thought that you could use VCSELs and SPADs to make a high-performance sensor, but we figured out how to do it and patented our approach. The design relies on these two chips with the lasers and detectors, and a lens in front of each chip. In that way, digital lidar really resembles a digital camera."

Voyant Photonics publishes a Medium article "LiDAR-on-a-Chip is Not a Fool’s Errand" with bold claims on its FMCW LiDAR capabilities:

"With every pulse our FMCW LiDAR receives reflectance and polarization measurements that let it differentiate pavement from metal, hands from coffee mugs, street signs from rubber tires, and of course a pot hole from a plastic bag. We expect to read painted markings on asphalt, in total darkness, far past where cameras could. FMCW Lidar is like a sensor from Star Trek. It can tell you where something is, how fast it’s moving, and also what it is made of.

Voyant’s devices are not science fiction. They fit in your hand. They are real. We plan on producing more of them by the end of 2022 than Velodyne has sold across all its products in the last 13 years.

High resolution 3D data generated by LiDAR turns scene analysis and real-time navigation tasks into a 5th grade geometry problem. No need for AI algorithms that simulate a cerebral cortex."

EETimes Junko Yoshida reports that a major Chinese car company Greely adopts MobilEye EyeQ5 chip with 11 cameras for ‘Hands-Free’ ADAS. There is no radar or lidar in the system. The cameras are split in 7 long range and 4 close range ones.

Mobileye SuperVision system consists of two Mobileye EyeQ5 SoCs and is the first public design win for EyeQ5 chip in a production car.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Microsoft ToF Group Pursues Industrial Applications with SICK

SICK AG is working with Microsoft to enable the development of commercial industrial 3D cameras and related solutions, which will be compatible with a Microsoft ecosystem built on top of Microsoft depth, Intelligent Cloud, and Intelligent Edge platforms. Selected customers are already testing SICK cameras that incorporate Microsoft ToF depth technology.

SICK and Microsoft are expanding 3D ToF technologies in the context of Industry 4.0, to bring state of the art technologies to SICK’s 3DToF Visionary-T camera product line, and make it smarter, using Azure Intelligent Cloud and Intelligent Edge capabilities.

SICK’s latest industrial 3DToF camera Visionary-T Mini is expected to be available for sales in early 2021, while prototypes are already available now. Visionary-T Mini incorporates another variant of Microsoft’s 3D ToF technology with an impressive dynamic range and a resolution of ~510 x 420 pixels. It will offer extended performance and advanced on-device processing infrastructure and tools not currently available with Azure Kinect DK, to include, but not limited to: 24/7 robustness, industrial interfaces, enhanced resolution with sharper depth images and enhanced depth quality.  

Thanks to RW for the link!

Lessons Learned in a Hard Way

Tobi Delbruck from Zurich University, Switzerland, publishes a confession session "Lessons Learned the Hard Way" that he has organized at ISCAS 2020. Many of the confessions are related to the camera technology. Most of them are coverered in the video, but some appear only in the conference paper.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

ADI Partners with Microsoft on ToF Imaging

BusinessWire: Analog Devices announces a strategic collaboration with Microsoft to leverage Microsoft’s 3D ToF sensor technology.

Our customers want depth image capture that ‘just works’ and is as easy as taking a photo,” said Duncan Bosworth, GM, Consumer Business Unit, Analog Devices. “Microsoft’s ToF 3D sensor technology used in the HoloLens mixed-reality headset and Azure Kinect Development Kit is seen as the industry standard for time-of-flight technologies. Combining this technology with custom-built solutions from ADI, our customers can easily deploy and scale the next generation of high-performance applications they demand, out of the box.

Analog Devices is an established leader in translating physical phenomena into digital information,” said Cyrus Bamji, Microsoft Partner Hardware Architect, Microsoft. “This collaboration will expand market access of our ToF sensor technology and enable the development of commercial 3D sensors, cameras, and related solutions, which will be compatible with a Microsoft ecosystem built on top of Microsoft depth, Intelligent Cloud, and Intelligent Edge platforms.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

High-Speed SPAD Sensor

Edinbough University publishes an OSA Optica paper "High-speed 3D sensing via hybrid-mode imaging and guided upsampling" by Istvan Gyongy, Sam W. Hutchings, Abderrahim Halimi, Max Tyler, Susan Chan, Feng Zhu, Stephen McLaughlin, Robert K. Henderson, and Jonathan Leach.

"In recent years, single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) arrays with picosecond timing capabilities have emerged as a key technology driving these systems forward. Here we report a high-speed 3D imaging system enabled by a state-of-the-art SPAD sensor used in a hybrid imaging mode that can perform multi-event histogramming. The hybrid imaging modality alternates between photon counting and timing frames at rates exceeding 1000 frames per second, enabling guided upscaling of depth data from a native resolution of 64×32 to 256×128. The combination of hardware and processing allows us to demonstrate high-speed ToF 3D imaging in outdoor conditions and with low latency. The results indicate potential in a range of applications where real-time, high throughput data are necessary. One such example is improving the accuracy and speed of situational awareness in autonomous systems and robotics."

Thanks to IG for the link!

Ams Presents its 3D Sensing Solutions

 Ams publishes a couple of videos about its 3D sensing solutions:

Assorted News: Egis Sues Goodix, LeddarTech Acquires Phantom Intelligence Assets

TaipeiTimes: Taiwan-based fingerprint sensor company Egis has filed a optical fingerprint patent infringement lawsuit with Beijing’s Intellectual Property Court against China-based world's largest fingerpint sensors manufacturer Goodix. Egis has requested the court to immediately stop Goodix’s practice and destroy all problematic products. It is also seeking 90M yuan (US$13.24M) in damages.

GlobeNewsWire: LeddarTech acquires the assets of Phantom Intelligence, including all of its intellectual property and technology. Founded in 2011, Phantom Intelligence is recognized for their expertise in signal processing and LiDAR technology that protects vulnerable road users (VRUs) and improves the safety and fluidity of travel by offering solutions that enable reliable advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

The Phantom Intelligence acquisition further advances our strategy to aggregate and consolidate automotive sensing technologies, enabling LeddarTech to offer comprehensive solutions to our customers at lower costs,” stated Frantz Saintellemy, President and COO of LeddarTech. “At LeddarTech we have, despite the COVID 19 pandemic, accelerated our drive towards serving multiple transportation and vehicle markets with end-to-end sensing solutions that provide our ADAS and AD customers a faster path to market at lower costs.