Saturday, September 05, 2015

Sony Sees Bright Future for 1,000fps Sensor

Bloomberg reports that Sony is "focusing on sensors that take photos at least 10 times faster than the human eye can see. The company is working with Nissan Motor Co. and a Tokyo University professor on affordable technology that can process 1,000 images a second.

<...>The high-speed sensors could help driverless cars avoid road hazards or allow industrial robots to speed up manufacturing. <...>Chips that capture 1,000 frames per second do exist, but their cost and size make them impractical for mass-market uses. For example, cameras with that kind of speed run $1,000 to $100,000 from companies including Sony and Vision Research Inc. The challenge is to shrink that power into a module small enough to fit in a car’s rear-view mirror and cheap enough for devices such as wearables. <...>the company has been able to achieve 900 frames per second with prototypes.

<...> “Until now, Sony has been very focused on designing image sensors that deliver beautiful photos,” said Shinichi Yoshimura, a Sony manager in charge of combining hardware and software for emerging technologies. “The images for sensing require a different kind of chip, and the challenge is converting technologies that make beautiful photos to new uses.”

“High-speed image sensors are a niche industry, but Sony has the power to take it mainstream,” [Masatoshi Ishikawa, University of Tokyo professor of engineering and robotics, said.] “And that may be just two years away.”

“As smartphone demand matures, at some point other Sony competitors will catch up in this technology,” said Yu Okazaki, an analyst at Nomura Securities Co. in Tokyo. “It is important to diversify applications to robots, cars, et cetera.” <...> the company expects its sales to climb as much as 62 percent to 1.5 trillion yen in three years."

SeekingAlpha quotes Sony CEO, Kaz Hirai, saying that the company "plans to invest €1.5B ($1.7B) in its image sensor ops in FY16 (ends March '16) - 5x what it invested in FY15."

A University of Tokyo spin-off Exvision, lead by Masatoshi Ishikawa, works on high speed image sensor applications:

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