Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Lucid Demos Sony Polarization Sensor

LUCID Vision Labs demos Sony IMX250MYR polarized color sensor in its Phoenix camera family. The 5 MP GS sensor with 3.45µm pixel and frame rates of up to 24 fps is based on the popular IMX250 Sony Pregius CMOS color sensor with polarizing filters added to the pixel. The sensor has four different directional polarizing filters (0°, 90°, 45°, and 135°) on every four pixels:

Panasonic Develops 250m-Range APD-based ToF Sensor

Panasonic has developed a TOF image sensorthat uses avalanche PD (APD) pixels and is capable of capturing range imaging of objects up to 250m even at night with poor visibility (there is no mention what is the range in mid-day sunlight). The new sensor applications include automotive range imaging and wide-area surveillance in the dark.

The ToF pixel includes an APD and an in-pixel circuit that integrates weak input signals to enables the 3D range imaging 250 m ahead. The sensor resolution is said to be the world's highest 250,000 pixels for a sensor based on electron-multiplying pixels. This high integration is achieved through the lamination of the electron multiplier and the electron storage as well as the area reduction of APD pixels.

The key innovative technologies are:
  • The area of APD pixels is significantly reduced while the multiplication performance is maintained through the lamination of the multiplier that amplifies photoelectrons and the electron storage that retains electrons.
    The APD multiplication factor is 10,000.
  • Long-range measurement imaging technology

Trioptics Active Alignment, Assembly and Testing of Camera Modules

Germany-based Trioptics demos Procam, its modular manufacturing line for active alignment, assembly and testing of camera modules in mass production:

Fiat-Chrysler Autonomous Car Relies on 5 LiDARs and 6 Cameras

Fiat-Chrysler 5-year plan presentation shows its Level 4 autonomous car with 5 LiDARs and 6 cameras. Most of the LiDARs are defined as "mid-range" possibly meaning their range is shorter than 200m for a cheaper price:

Monday, June 18, 2018

Gil Amelio on Patent Infrigements

Investors Business Daily publishes Gil Amelio article with a story of Pictos vs Samsung lawsuit:

"A typical small inventive company, Pictos Technologies, was put out of business after Samsung aggressively infringed its intellectual property.

Pictos invented an inexpensive image sensor that could be used in countless applications such as mobile phones and automobile cameras, to name only two. This next-generation Image Sensor was a follow-on to my dozen or so image-sensing patents that helped launch the solid-state image-sensor business years earlier. The Pictos technology, developed after years of investment and design, was protected by a portfolio of patents obtained at substantial cost.

In 2014, Pictos sued Samsung in federal court, alleging that it had "willfully infringed" its intellectual property. After years of costly litigation, the case went to trial, where Pictos lawyers introduced evidence that proved Samsung began as a Pictos customer, secretly copied its engineering designs and production process, and replicated them in Korea. Using our technology and its sizable scale, it went on to dominate this sector of the world electronics market.

Following lengthy litigation, the jury ruled in our favor and awarded substantial damages. The judge then trebled the damages based on "evidence of (Samsung's) conduct at the time of the accused infringement." Please note: Samsung's behavior was so egregious that the judge tripled the jury determination of the infringement costs to us.

That was just the first round, though. The verdict can be overturned on appeal, which, of course, Samsung has filed.

Update: Once we are at historical stuff, SemiWiki publishes Mentor Graphics CEO Wally Rhines memories from the early days of CCD and DRAM imagers in Stanford University in 1960s.

Microsoft Opens Access to Hololens Cameras

Microsoft opens access to a raw video stream from cameras in its Hololens AR headset, including 3D ToF camera:

"The depth camera uses active infrared (IR) illumination to determine depth through time-of-flight. The camera can operate in two modes. The first mode enables high-frequency (30 FPS) near-depth sensing, commonly used for hand tracking, while the other is used for lower-frequency (1-5 FPS) far-depth sensing, currently used by spatial mapping. In addition to depth, this camera also delivers actively illuminated IR images that can be valuable in their own right because they are illuminated from the HoloLens and reasonably unaffected by ambient light."

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Canon Explores Large Image Sensor Future

Canon publishes an article on its image sensor projects for academic and industrial customers.

The world's largest high-Sensitivity CMOS sensor is measuring ~20 cm square. As such, a 20-cm-square sensor is the largest size that can be manufactured on 300mm wafer, and is equivalent to nearly 40 times the size of a 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor:

Canon has spent many years working to reduce the pixel size for CMOS sensors, making possible a pixel size of 2.2 µm for a total of approximately 120MP on a single sensor. The APS-H size (approx. 29 x 20 mm) CMOS sensor boasts approximately 7.5 times the number of pixels and 2.6 times the resolution of sensors of the same size featured in existing products. This sensor offers potential for a range of industrial applications, including cameras for shooting images for large-format poster prints, cameras for the image inspection of precision parts, aerospace cameras, and omnidirectional vision cameras.

Friday, June 15, 2018

TrinamiX Paper in Nature

Nature publishes BASF spin-off TrinamiX paper "Focus-Induced Photoresponse: a novel way to measure distances with photodetectors" by Oili Pekkola, Christoph Lungenschmied, Peter Fejes, Anke Handreck, Wilfried Hermes, Stephan Irle, Christian Lennartz, Christian Schildknecht, Peter Schillen, Patrick Schindler, Robert Send, Sebastian Valouch, Erwin Thiel, and Ingmar Bruder.

"We present the Focus-Induced Photoresponse (FIP) technique, a novel approach to optical distance measurement. It takes advantage of a universally-observed phenomenon in photodetector devices, an irradiance-dependent responsivity. This means that the output from a sensor is not only dependent on the total flux of incident photons, but also on the size of the area in which they fall. If probe light from an object is cast on the detector through a lens, the sensor response depends on how far in or out of focus the object is. We call this the FIP effect. Here we demonstrate how to use the FIP effect to measure the distance to that object. We show that the FIP technique works with different sensor types and materials, as well as visible and near infrared light. The FIP technique operates on a working principle, which is fundamentally different from all established distance measurement methods and hence offers a way to overcome some of their limitations. FIP enables fast optical distance measurements with a simple single-pixel detector layout and minimal computational power. It allows for measurements that are robust to ambient light even outside the wavelength range accessible with silicon.

In this paper, we demonstrated the measurement principle at distances up to 2 m and showed a resolution of below 500 µm at a distance of 50 cm. In the Supplementary Information S7, distance measurements up to 70 m can be found.

F-35 Gets 6 Cameras for Surround View

PRNewswire: Surround view cameras reach defense industry. Lockheed Martin selectes Raytheon to develop and deliver the next generation Distributed Aperture System (DAS) for the F-35 fighter jet.

The F-35's DAS collects and sends high resolution, real-time imagery to the pilot's helmet from six IR cameras mounted around the aircraft, allowing pilots to see the environment around them – day or night. With the ability to detect and track threats from any angle, the F-35 DAS gives pilots situational awareness of the battlespace.

imec is Back to Film, Organic Film

imec promotes its organic film image sensors:

"We demonstrated a first film measuring 6 by 8 cm – which can check 4 fingers simultaneously – and which has a resolution of 200ppi. The second film – designed for a single fingerprint – has a resolution of 500ppi. This level of accuracy is what would be typical for the FBI to identify someone correctly.

The image sensors detect visible light between 400 and 700 nm that is reflected by the skin. They can also detect light that penetrates the skin before being reflected. This latter feature is of value for detecting a heartbeat, which provides an extra security check.

The fingerprint and palm print sensor is made up of a layer of oxide thin-film transistors with organic photodiodes on top. These photodiodes can then be ‘tuned’ by using a different organic material so that they detect a different wavelength, such as near infrared. This enables the vein pattern in a hand to be visualized, which is even more precise for accurate identification than a palm print.

In addition to this fingerprint scanner based on photodiodes and light, imec and Holst Centre are also working on a scanner that uses thermal sensors (PYCSEL project). Once again a lower layer of oxide thin-film transistors is used. The upper layer is a material that measures electric temperature changes. The fingerprint is then detected indirectly by local variations in temperature changes that correspond with the pattern of the fingerprint. Here again a resolution of 500ppi is achievable.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

ON Semi Talks about Automotive Pixel Technologies

AutoSens publishes an interview with ON Semi talking about "Super Exposing" pixel that reduces LED flicker and other ON innovations for the automotive market:

Mazda CX-3 SUV Features Nighttime Pedestrian Detection

Nikkei: Mazda CX-3 compact SUV comes with, as a standard feature, an automatic emergency braking system that supports nighttime pedestrians detection:

"Nighttime pedestrians are detected by the monocular camera. To support nighttime pedestrians, in terms of software, the logic of detecting pedestrians was improved, enhancing the accuracy of recognizing pedestrians at night. Its hardware was also improved to increase the speed of exchanging data between the [Mobileye] EyeQ3 image processing chip and memory."

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

More AutoSens Detroit Interviews

AutoSens publishes more interviews from Detroit:

Xenomatix talks about many design wins for its LiDAR:

Tetravue talks about its technology:

FLIR talks about thermal camera for automotive applications:

Algolux talks about its ML algorithms:

3D Imaging with PDAF Pixels

OSA Optics Express publishes a paper "Depth extraction with offset pixels" by W. J. Yun, Y. G. Kim, Y. M. Lee, J. Y. Lim, H. J. Kim, M. U. K. Khan, S. Chang, H. S. Park, and C. M. Kyung, KAIST, QiSens, and Kongju National University, Korea.

"Numerous depth extraction techniques have been proposed in the past. However, the utility of these techniques is limited as they typically require multiple imaging units, bulky platforms for computation, cannot achieve high speed and are computationally expensive. To counter the above challenges, a sensor with Offset Pixel Apertures (OPA) has been recently proposed. However, a working system for depth extraction with the OPA sensor has not been discussed. In this paper, we propose the first such system for depth extraction using the OPA sensor. We also propose a dedicated hardware implementation for the proposed system, named as the Depth Map Processor (DMP). The DMP can provide depth at 30 frames per second at 1920 × 1080 resolution with 31 disparity levels. Furthermore, the proposed DMP has low power consumption as for the aforementioned speed and resolution it only requires 290.76 mW. The proposed system makes it an ideal choice for depth extraction systems in constrained environments."

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

NIT Demos Log Sensor with LED Flicker Suppression

New Imaging Technologies publishes a demo of its NSC1701 sensor featuring LED flicker suppression mode:

Depth Sensing: From Exotic to Ubiquitous

Embedded Vision Alliance publishes a video lecture "The Evolution of Depth Sensing: From Exotic to Ubiquitous" delivered by Erik Klaas, CTO of 8tree in September 2017.

ams 48MP 30fps Full-Frame GS Imager Enters Mass Production

BusinessWire: ams announces its CMV50000, a high-speed 48MP global shutter CMOS sensor for machine vision applications, has entered into mass production and is available for purchase in high volumes now.

The CMV50000, which features a 35mm-format 7920 x 6004 array of 4.6µm-sized pixels based on a 8T pixel architecture, operates at 30 fps with 12-bit pixel depth at full resolution or a binned 4K and 8K modes, and even faster – up to 60 fps – with pixel sub-sampling at 4K resolution.

The sensor offers 64dB optical DR at full resolution and up to 68dB in binned 4K mode. The image sensor benefits from the implementation of sophisticated new on-chip noise-reduction circuitry such as black-level clamping, enabling it to capture high-quality images in low-light conditions.

The superior imaging performance of the CMV50000 was recognized earlier in 2018 when it was named the Biggest Breakthrough Development at the Image Sensors Europe Awards 2018.

During recent months, ams has seen great demand for the CMV50000 from design teams developing new automated optical inspection systems and vision systems for testing flat panel displays,” said Wim Wuyts, Marketing Director for Image Sensors at ams. “The CMV50000 is now fully qualified and available to these manufacturers in production volumes. It is also about to be supported by a full demonstration system for evaluating the sensor’s performance.

Both the monochrome and color versions of the CMV50000 are available in production volumes now. The per unit pricing is €3,450.

ams investors presentation dated by December 2017 details the company's strategy in imaging:

ams Compares 3D Imaging Approaches

ams investors presentation from Dec 2017 compares different 3D imaging technologies:

Monday, June 11, 2018

AutoSens Detroit Inteviews

AutoSens publishes a number of videos from its Detroit conference:

Sony Depth Sensing Demo:

SensL talks about its acquisition by ON Semi:

Omnivision Announces New Sensors for Medical Applications

OmniVision announces the 1/11-inch OH01A HD sensor employing the 1.1um PureCel-S pixel stacked-die architecture to provide the compact size, high resolution and cost effectiveness required for the next generation of disposable and reusable endoscopes and catheters. The OH01A is the world’s first medical image sensor to provide 1280 x 800 resolution at a rate of 60 fps in a tiny 2.5 x 1.5 mm package.

As endoscopes reach further into the human body for diagnostics, surgeons require smaller image sensors with higher resolution and excellent image quality,” said Tehzeeb Gunja, principal marketing and business development manager at OmniVision. “At the same time, they need a wide viewing angle and close focus distance with low power consumption to reduce heat and improve patient comfort. The OH01A image sensor fulfills all these requirements.

Support for both MIPI and sub-LVDS output interfaces allows the OH01A to transmit image data over long distances. It also integrates one-time-programmable (OTP) memory to store manufacturing and calibration information.

The OH01A can also be autoclaved for reusable devices and sterilized for disposable ones. Samples of the OH01A are available now, and it is expected to enter volume production in Q4 2018.

OmniVision announces the 1/6-inch OV2741, a 1.4um PureCel-S pixel stacked-die sensor that extends medical image sensor family. The OV2741 provides 1080p at a rate of 60 fps and has a broadband double anti-reflective coating on its cover glass to eliminate glare, ghosting and reflections due to strong illumination.

The OV2741 is aimed to endoscopic devices used in diagnostic and surgical procedures, including airway-management (esophagoscopes, laryngoscopes, thorascopes, pleuroscopes, bronchoscopes, mediastinoscopes) and gastro-intestinal (gastroscopes, duodenoscopes, amniscopes) applications.

The OV2741’s low power consumption of just 90 mW, while operating at 60 fps and full HD resolution, keeps the distal tip of the endoscope cooler for greater patient comfort. Additionally, the OV2741 can be both autoclaved for reusable applications and sterilized for disposable ones.

Samples of the OV2741 are available now, and it is expected to enter volume production in Q3 2018.

OmniVision announces the OVMed, a mixed-signal ISP for medical, veterinarian and industrial endoscopy applications. The ISP comes in ASIC and FPGA versions.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

ON Semi LED Flicker Mitigation Demo

ON Semi demos its LED flicker reduction in AR0233 automotive HDR sensor:

Friday, June 08, 2018

New Companies Alliance Unveils First Products

Vancouver, Canada-based Imagica Technology and Lumiense Photonics close and agreement with Tucson, AZ-based Maxwell-Hiqe (M-H) to be their exclusive global distributor. Both Imagica and Lumiense were founded by Rob Hannebauer, while M-H is led by David Gilblom.

Lumiense concentrates on 3-die stacked image sensors, while Imagica licenses Lumiense 2-die stacked architecture.

The first Imagica product is a series of line scan sensors designed specifically to replace Sony 14 micron pixel ILX line scan devices discontinued by Sony several years ago. Samples of the first of these sensors, the ITR-511, a replacement for the Sony ILX511B, are now available.

Lumiense has developed a "unique, patented wafer stacking techniques developed by Lumiense Photonics that allow vertical connection through several wafers separately for each photodiode. This allows separation of photon sensing from control, readout and processing with resulting advantages in performance and manufacturability by providing features unique to this architecture."

"The basic LP Architecture is a stack of three wafers. The top wafer contains only photodiodes that are made using high-performance scientific photodiode processes. The second wafer contains the circuitry necessary to operate the photodiodes and read out the image signals. These two wafers are thinned and their back surfaces are permanently bonded. Using a special process, the photodiodes are then connected to the circuitry. Before the wafers are bonded, one of them is supplied with a multilayer structure that acts as a reflector to send any light that penetrates the photodiodes back through for a second chance at detection.

The surface of the circuitry wafer is provided with bonding bumps so that is can be bonded to the third - mount - wafer. The mount wafer is of normal thickness and can contain CMOS circuitry designed to perform any desired electronic function. Connection to the package is made by ball bonds from the mount wafer.

In the Fall of 2018. Imagica will offer its first area sensor built with the Lumiense stacked architecture. This will be a 1/3-inch 1080p, 60 fps, HDR device with 3um pixels and an optional Bayer filter. It will feature a high-extinction global shutter, nearly 100% fill factor without microlenses, low noise, very high full well capacity (and, therefore, high linear dynamic range) and low dark current.

GPixel Presents Large BSI Sensor

GPixel claims it has created the world's largest BSI CMOS sensor, GSENSE6060. The pixel array area of the 37.7MP, 10um pixel sensor is 61.44 x 61.44 mm2 large, and the pixel full well and DR are large too:

Thermal Imaging on Production Floor

ULIS publishes a video showing its high-speed thermal sensors advantages in production applications:

ALA reports that Sofradir-owned ULIS goes through a restructuring over the next few months:

“Faced with growing competition, we need to be smarter and more efficient about how we manage our assets going forward; we are setting the stage to continue our long-standing success in infrared imaging,” said Jean-François Delepau, chairman of Sofradir, ULIS and Sofradir-EC. “Fundamentally, we are reinvigorating our strengths: extensive scientific knowledge and industrial expertise, technological vision, a strong performance record, team excellence and close relationships with customers and suppliers. These assets will enable us to take product quality beyond current market standards and raise the bar in speeding up innovation to market.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Amazon Echo Look Includes Intel 3D Camera

PocketNow: Finally, Intel RealSense technology has been integrated into a mass market device, quite a milestone. Amazon Echo Look uses a 2D and 3D camera system and AI:

"The mic lets you easily order the Echo Look to take photos and record 6-second videos of your “daily look” to help you build “your own personal lookbook.” A 5MP camera with Intel RealSense SR300 technology for depth-sensing support, alongside special LED lighting and computer vision-based background blur, aim to “make your outfits pop”, while Amazon’s in-house AI agent uses an increasingly advanced set of skills to perform so-called “style checks.”

The feature at the very top of the Look’s key selling points can compare two outfits based on a number of factors, including color, styling, fit and current trends, providing detailed explanations of which one works best on a certain occasion.

AFTVNews checks the quality of AI-guided style suggestions:

Sony Polarization Sensor Demo

FLIR publishes a demo of Sony IMX250MZR polarization imaging:

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Espros TOF Academy

Espros pre-announces the TOF Academy in its May 2018 newsletter:

"TOF is a relatively new domain in engineering sciences... To implement TOF sensors, new know-how has to be gained regarding illumination, optics, power and thermal management, 3D TOF image processing, camera calibration and compensation, ambient effects, image artifacts like motion blur, flying fish and flying pixel phenomenon.

ESPROS will start soon a series of seminars which will help to close the gap to a professional implementation of TOF cameras, TOF range finders or TOF scanners. We will soon post here more information about our TOF Academy cycles.

Monday, June 04, 2018

International Image Sensor Society Calls for Award Nominations

The International Image Sensor Society (IISS) calls for nominations for IISS Exceptional Lifetime Achievement Award, IISS Pioneering Achievement Award, and IISS Exceptional Service Award. The Awards are to be presented at the 2019 International Image Sensor Workshop (IISW) (to be held in the USA).

Description of Awards:
  • IISS Exceptional Lifetime Achievement Award. This Award is made to a member of the image sensor community who has made substantial sustained and exceptional contributions to the field of solid-state image sensors over the course of their career. (Established 2013)
  • IISS Pioneering Achievement Award. This award is to recognize a person who made a pioneering achievement in image sensor technology as judged by at least 10 years of hindsight as a foundational contribution. (Established 2015)
  • IISS Exceptional Service Award. The Exceptional Service Award is presented for exceptional service to the image sensor specialist community. (Established 2011)
Submission deadline: all nominations must be received by September 30th, 2018.
Email for submissions: 2019nominations@imagesensors.org
Note: Self-nomination is discouraged.

Airy3D Demos RGB-3D Imager

Montreal, Canada-based Airy3D startup works to create a combined 3D and RGB sensor technology:

"DepthIQ is underpinned by a transmissive diffraction mask (TDM) made with standard semiconductor technology. TDMs take advantage of diffraction, which inherently reveals the phase and direction of light to measure depth directly. Moreover, diffraction is conservative with no light loss. This unique and globally patented solution can transform any CMOS image sensor into a 3D sensor for cameras used in numerous cutting-edge applications such as AR/VR, ADAS, drones and other UAVs, robots, and IoT, as well as next-generation smartphones.

DepthIQ is a drop in solution for existing CMOS sensors that requires no change to other hardware or assembly. Computational processing is fast and straightforward using minimal power. Both the image and depth information are captured simultaneously without any comparative analysis of multiple images or complex sensor fusion algorithms.

The company's PCT patent application WO/2017/210781 "Light Field Imaging Device and Method for Depth Acquisition and Three-Dimensional Imaging" by Jonathan Ikola Saari and Ji-Ho Cho explains the operating principles: