Tuesday, October 23, 2018

NIT InGaAs Gated Imager Demo

NIT publishes one more gated imaging demo based on its InGaAs Sensor having 640x512 pixels resolution at 15µm pitch:

ST Presents Pixel with 2 Memories for Automotive Applications

Autosens presents an interview with ST taken in Brussels in September 2018. Nicholas Roux from STMicro talks about a new NIR global shutter pixel with 2 memories for in-cabin automotive applications:

Omnivision Announces Low-Cost BSI Sensors for Security Applications

PRNewswire: OmniVision announces its latest 2um image sensor family built on its OmniBSI pixel, the OS02F10 and OS04B10. "Previously, entry-level IoT security and surveillance cameras could only afford frontside illumination image sensors, which has limited the performance of these cameras," said Brian Fang, business development director at OmniVision. "With our new OS02F10 and OS04B10 image sensors, even security cameras designed for residential applications will no longer have to sacrifice performance for cost effectiveness. The compact OmniBSI architecture reduces pixel crosstalk, yielding excellent image quality."

The 1/4-inch OS02F10 is a 2MP sensor that supports 1080p video at 30 fps. The OS02F10 consumes less than 120 mW.

The 1/3-inch OS04B10 has 3.6MP resolution that supports 2K (2560 x 1440) resolution video at 30 fps. The OS04B10's power consumption is less than 140 mW.

The OS02F10 and OS04B10 sensors are available now.

Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 Supports 480fps HD Slo-Mo, Triple Cameras

PRNewswire: Qualcomm Snapdragon 675 application processor features new Spectra 250L ISP and supports limitless 480 fps HD slo-mo recording and triple cameras:

"Snapdragon 675 is designed to enable smartphone users to capture images and videos in professional-grade quality during the day and night, in slow-motion and with the help of AI. Snapdragon 675 supports a triple camera configuration in the front or back, supporting features such as telephoto, wide angle, and super-wide image capture, as well as enhanced portrait mode (Bokeh), 3D face unlock and 'epic' selfies. Additionally, Snapdragon 675 provides limitless slo-mo – capable of recording extended slo-mo video clips in HD, not limited to one second or shorter bursts."

Monday, October 22, 2018

NIT Presents SWIR Gated Imager

NIT video shows its new SWIR gated imager:

Sony Enhances MIPI D-PHY with Multiple Devices Connection Capability

Sony IMX418 global shutter CMOS sensor comes with an interface capable of multiple sensor connection on a single MIPI D-PHY input port, said to be the world-first sensor based on Sony's original data transmission technology. The company expects this product to be used in head mounted displays (HMD), drones, autonomous robots and other products that perform SLAM and obstacle detection based on information obtained with image sensors.

Image Sensor Imperfections

Caeleste has updated its 3-year old presentation "Imperfections of high-performance image sensors" by Bart Dierickx:

SPAD Quenching with 7.8ps Timing Jitter

MDPI Instruments publishes a paper "Quenching Circuit and SPAD Integrated in CMOS 65 nm with 7.8 ps FWHM Single Photon Timing Resolution" by Frédéric Nolet, Samuel Parent, Nicolas, Marc-Olivier Mercier, Serge A. Charlebois, Réjean Fontaine, and Jean-Francois Pratte, Université de Sherbrooke, Canada.

"This paper presents a new quenching circuit (QC) and single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) implemented in TSMC CMOS 65 nm technology. The QC was optimized for single photon timing resolution (SPTR) with a view to an implementation in a 3D digital SiPM. The presented QC has a timing jitter of 4 ps full width at half maximum (FWHM) and the SPAD and QC has a 7.8 ps FWHM SPTR. The QC adjustable threshold allows timing resolution optimization as well as SPAD excess voltage and rise time characterization. The adjustable threshold, hold-off and recharge are essential to optimize the performances of each SPAD. This paper also provides a better understanding of the different contributions to the SPTR. A study of the contribution of the SPAD excess voltage variation combined to the QC time propagation delay variation is presented. The proposed SPAD and QC eliminates the SPAD excess voltage contribution to the SPTR for excess voltage higher than 1 V due to its fixed time propagation delay."

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Fujifilm Claims #1 Market Share in CFA

Fujifilm investor presentation claims #1 market share in CFA manufacturing:

Indeed, the company has a broad range of CFA materials:

Friday, October 19, 2018

AutoSens Brussels Interviews: Sony, ON Semi, More

AutoSens conference held in Brussels, Belgium, in September 2018, publishes a nice collection of interviews with its exhibitors:

Thursday, October 18, 2018

GF Securities on Smartphone Camera Trends, Apple ToF Solution

Hong Kong-based GF Securities publishes "Greater China Smartphone Supply Chain" report dated by Sept. 26, 2018. The analysts say about the forthcoming Apple ToF solution:

"Due to Apple’s AR focus (Apple launched its ARkit in June-2017), we expect ToF to be installed in Apple's 2019 iPhone models. However, due to VSCEL-based ToF not being ready due to issues in power consumption, sensor form factor, etc., our supply chain checks suggest a microwave RF solution is more likely. The solution uses an RF wavelength to detect depth and combines 2D/3D images captured by a dual-cam to deliver AR functions. Compared to VSCEL-based ToF, the RF solution has a lower cost but a lower resolution and shorter distance. We expect the microwave RF chip to be provided by either Apple or Broadcom."

There are few major trends with respect to the smartphone cameras:

"We forecast global tri-cam penetration in smartphones of 15% in 2019 (>200m units) and 25% in 2020... Concerns about low-spec “three individual” design make little sense to us, as tri-cam models mostly use optical zooms which require alignment. We also do not think algorithms will be able to replace tri-cams, as optical zooms cannot be achieved only using software.

Besides, we expect the trend of large sensors to continue, driven by Sony’s quadra sensor and Apple’s move to 1/2.6”/2.25” sensors in 2H18/2H19, from 1/2.8” in 2H17, lifting lens and module spec requirements. As such, we expect highend sensors and lenses to be in tight supply in 2019. For Largan, we expect its “new weapon”, pure black lenses, to help it gain traction in front cameras given its better full screen design.

For lens makers, we believe rising shipments driven by the robust tri-cam adoption should help alleviate competition and strengthen leading players’ pricing power. Spec-wise, due to tri-cam’s requirement for lens uniformity, we expect a duopoly in lenses – Largan to take the lion’s share while Sunny will benefit from order overflow. We believe it will be difficult for other second-tier lens makers to catch up.

For module makers, we believe the tri-cam trend should help to lift CCM ASPs, as a tri-cam module can carry a US$40+ ASP, compared to dual-cam modules at US$20+ for the current high-end Chinese OEM models. Regarding market concerns of the potential lower spec of the “three individual” design, we believe the design does not make sense for mid/high end models, which accounts for the majority of current tri-cam demand, as adding one additional camera mostly addresses the zoom function. We note that zoom functions require active alignment to calibrate optical performance; thus, we believe “two + one” makes more sense.

While the optical industry may not see a meaningful 7P upgrade in 2018-19, the previous yield issue on the P20 Pro suggests a high-end 6P design is still difficult for both lenses and modules due to the large CMOS sensor size. Theoretically, the large CMOS sensor size will challenge the z-height of modules and lenses. Based on our survey of CMOS roadmaps, we expect the trend of large sizes to continue, driven by Sony’s introduction of a quadra sensor and Apple’s move to larger sensors, both requiring high lens specs (i.e., thinner, higher frequency, etc.) and thinner module structures. P20 Pro’s 40MP lens is the first for quadra this year, and we expect OPPO, Xiaomi and Vivo to follow suit.

"Driven by the trend towards multi-cams and large CMOS sensors, our supply chain survey suggests leading CMOS sensor and lens makers will continue to expand capacity. However, we note that Sony, which hasn’t come out with official expansion guidance, looks slow in its expansion, and our supply chain survey suggests it may only have a 10-15% expansion plan for 2019. As such, we expect supply of high-end CMOS sensors and lenses (which mostly pair with Sony’s sensors) to be tight in 2019. We therefore expect a favorable pricing environment in 2019 for leading CMOS sensor and lens players."

Digitimes: CIS Demand to Boom in 2019

Digitimes expects the CMOS sensor demand to boom in 2019, thanks to triple-camera phones adoption and ADAS applications in 2019. After Huawei triple-camera in its P20 and Mate 20 series models, other China vendors are expected to follow, and even Apple is said to likely adopt thriple camera in its future iPhones.

Sony enjoys most of this mobile market growth. In addition, Sony is tapping into the supply chains of first-tier automotive suppliers such as Denso and Bosch, and is also zeroing in on the demand for rearview mirror CIS devices from Japan automakers such as Nissan, Honda and Toyota. Taiwan's backend service provider Kingpak is actively striving for packaging orders from Sony, the newspaper sources said.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Artilux Ge-on-Si ToF Pixel

IEDM publishes a teaser for Artilux paper "Ge-on-Si Lock-In Pixels for Distance Ranging" by N. Na et al.

"Range-imaging is key to many electronics applications such as hand tracking, facial recognition, localization/mapping for navigation, object detection/ranging for autonomous driving, and many others. However, new technologies are needed to enable accurate range-imaging at wavelengths beyond the visible range, in order to ensure eye safety and for better performance. One approach is to develop better “lock-in” pixels for use in image sensor arrays. Lock-in pixels provide distance information indirectly, using the time-of-flight (TOF) principle. TOF systems determine the distance of an object by shining light on it, reflecting that light to the pixel and noting when it arrives, and calculating the distance light would have traveled in that time. Artilux, Inc. researchers will report the first Ge-on-Si lock-in pixels for indirect TOF measurements for such uses. These Ge-on-Si pixels demonstrated both high sensitivity (quantum efficiency >85% and >46% at 940nm/1550nm wavelengths, respectively) and high resolution (demodulation contrast >0.81 at 300MHz), a significant improvement from their pure Si pixel counterparts. The technology may open new routes to high-performance indirect TOF sensors and imagers, as well as the potential adoption of eye-safe lasers for consumer electronics. The researchers say the lock-in pixels were fabricated using a commercially available foundry technology and hence may be ready for mass production in the near future."

Sony Maps its CIS Products

Sony publishes the maps explaining its image sensor lineups for consumer cameras and industrial applications:

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Omnivision Explains LED Flicker Mitigation

Omnivision's video explains LED flicker and the ways to reduce it:

Samsung Expands ISOCELL Brand to Automotive Products

BusinessWire: Samsung announces its new automotive solution brand Samsung ISOCELL Auto. “Samsung's new automotive brand solutions, Exynos Auto and ISOCELL Auto, bring Samsung's market-proven technologies to automotive applications with enhanced features and durability required by the market,” said Kenny Han, VP of Samsung’s Device Solutions Division.

Samsung’s ISOCELL Auto are built on the company’s pixel isolation technology, ISOCELL, the sensors are said to provide greater visibility of the road and surroundings even in low-light environments, while enabling more precise identification of objects. This allows, for example, vehicles to perceive road conditions or potential hazards even when driving through tunnels or other high-contrast environments.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Correction to Omnivision's Interview

Omnivision asked me to correct a part of Yole Developpement interview that talks about its relationship with Will Semiconductor:

"PC: Since the change in shareholders two years ago, can you explain to our readers what has changed for the company?

MW: Our IPO on the Nasdaq Exchange was in 2000. In 2016, we went private. Since September 2017, Mr. Renrong Yu has been OmniVision CEO and he also serves as Chairman of the Board of Will Semiconductor. While the companies have had a close working relationship, the Will Semiconductor company presently owns a small minority share in OmniVision. A proposed transaction is currently in the due diligence phase, and would still require regulatory approvals. Upon consummation of the proposed transaction, the combined company would then be publicly traded on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

That said, our focus and mission at OmniVision have not changed. That mission is to enable the sensing possibilities with intelligent and reliable imaging solutions. We will continue to develop image sensors for the markets mentioned earlier with more resources and a larger sensor portfolio to capture more worldwide market share.

Omnivision Combines ULL with Nyxel in 2MP Sensor, Introduces NIR SNR1 Metric

PRNewswire: OmniVision announces the OS02C10, a 2.9um, 2MP sensor with ultra-low-light (ULL) technology. Combining ULL with Nyxel NIR technology, the OS02C10 can detect incident light in both visible and NIR wavelengths and produce color and monochrome images for security applications.

Nxyel NIR technology in OS02C10 gives it a QE of 60% at 850nm and 40% at 940nm, which is 2x to 4x better than competing devices. Such high QE enables the use of lower-power IR illumination in total darkness.

The amount of NIR light that a sensor requires to capture high-quality images can be quantified with a new metric called NIR SNR1, which takes into account the QE, pixel size and read noise. The OS02C10 achieves an SNR1 at 850nm of 23nw/cm2 and an SNR1 at 940nm of 31nw/cm2, which are 2x to 4x smaller numbers compared with the leading competitors' sensors. For the designers of security cameras that operate in total darkness, this means they can reduce IR illumination to consume 2x to 4x less power compared to the competitors' sensors, for the same environment and over the same image-detection range.

"Surveillance cameras with AI functionality need the highest possible resolution in all lighting conditions for accurate facial recognition," said Brian Fang, business development director at OmniVision. "These next-generation, intelligent-sensing surveillance systems are being enabled by our new sensor's top imaging performance, with industry-best detection capabilities under both extremely low visible light and infrared light in complete darkness."

The OS02C10 achieves an SNR1 of 0.16 lux. OmniVision's dual-conversion-gain technology allows this sensor to achieve the industry's best ULL performance, while the 3-frame staggered shutter minimizes motion artifacts and enables a HDR of 120 dB. The OS02C10 image sensor is available now.

TowerJazz Adds 65nm to its ITAR Compliant Process Family, 45nm to Follow

GlobeNewswire: TowerJazz announces ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) compliant processes now include 65nm technology access for next-generation ROICs, enabling essential military and space applications critical to national defense. ROICs are used for reading IR and UV detectors in military surveillance and other applications ranging from x-ray astronomy to security and industrial inspection.

Initial products serving the US aerospace and defense community have taped-out in this new 65nm offering and additional products are in design. “We are excited to announce this new advanced capability to our customers. Adding 65nm, and soon, 45nm technology for ITAR products enables our aerospace and defense customers additional avenues to continue to create advanced products to serve this very critical market,” said Mike Scott, Director, TowerJazz USA Aerospace & Defense.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Kingpak Compares Automotive CIS Packages

Kingpak presentation on automotive image sensor packaging compares the company's BGA offerings with competition:

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Friday, October 12, 2018

Omnivision on Merging with Will Semi, Manufacturing Partners, Pixel Shrink

Yole Developpement publishes an interview with Michael Wu, SVP Global Marketing and Sales at OmniVision. Few interesting quotes:

Update: The quote below has been edited according to Omnivision's request on Oct. 15, 2018:

"Our IPO on the Nasdaq Exchange was in 2000. In 2016, we went private. Since September 2017, Mr. Renrong Yu has been OmniVision CEO and he also serves as Chairman of the Board of Will Semiconductor. While the companies have had a close working relationship, the Will Semiconductor company presently owns a small minority share in OmniVision. A proposed transaction is currently in the due diligence phase, and would still require regulatory approvals. Upon consummation of the proposed transaction, the combined company would then be publicly traded on the Shanghai Stock Exchange."

Once we are at M&A activity, that same Will Semi also buys a majority stake in SuperPix. Together with Omnivision acquisition, it is one of the largest deals registered in Asia-Pacific region in Aug. 2018:

Now, back to the Omnivision's interview:

"With design and R&D centers worldwide, including the U.S., Norway, Japan, China and Singapore, OmniVision has 17 office locations, roughly 1,600 employees and more than 3,800 patents globally. Over the past 23 years, our total shipment number has reached over 9 billion units. In terms of shipment volume, we are leading in all CIS application segments with great customer acceptance and a proven global track record. In terms of unit shipments, we are No. 3 in mobile, No. 2 in automotive and security, and No. 1 in notebooks, medical and emerging markets.

Our first image sensor for the automotive market went to volume production in 2004, and we launched the first automotive high dynamic range (HDR) SoC image sensor/signal processor in 2008. To date, we have more than 110M sensors on the road worldwide. We partnered with TSMC for all of our automotive products to ensure both quality and reliable supply.

HLMC is one of our key supply chain partners. We continue working very closely and developing new products with our partners. Our strategy is to leverage the technical strengths, process capabilities, capacity and long-term commitments of multiple CIS manufacturing partners to optimize our product portfolio, supply, quality and cost, no matter where they are located. We will continue with this strategy moving forward.

We are focused on and committed to the mobile segment—it represents more than 60% of our revenue. Pixel-shrink evolution has accelerated (especially going from 1.0 micron to 0.9 micron and 0.8 micron, and even 0.7 micron) for the mainstream, high-end smartphone segment that is using our 4C CF pattern. This pattern is where four neighboring pixels have the same color filter, effectively increasing sensitivity while providing the option to recover full-size resolution at a specific frame rate.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

e2v Announces 11MP APS-C Sensor Capable of 4K 710fps Video

Teledyne e2v announces a new 11MP sensor in its Lince family. The Lince11M is designed for applications that require 4K resolution at very high shutter speed. It uniquely combines 4K resolution at 710fps in APS-C format or or 1400fps when windowing in full HD resolution.

Lince11M targets in-line inspection to increase manufacturing throughput, or with strobed lighting for multispectral imaging or multi field (bright field, dark field, backlight) imaging, and serve as an alternative to line scan sensors to improve defect classification where uniform image sharpness across all directions is critical.

Lince11M takes advantage of the APS-C format and is compatible with standard optics. The samples are expected to be available in March 2019.

Key features:
  • Global shutter CMOS pixel (6μm x 6μm)
  • APS-C optical format in 4K resolution
  • 700fps in 4K resolution, 1400fps in full HD resolution
  • Large FWC to maximize SNR in shot noise limited application
  • SNR of 46dB
  • Peak QE of 60%

Light-Controlled Polymers

Finland's Tampere University of Technology (TUT) is developing light-controlled materials that change their shape, length or thickness in response to light. The new method enables researchers to employ UV light to program the shape the material adapts, and then elicit the different types of movements by shining red light on the material.

"Our concept for developing this material is actually quite simple. It is based on a combination of two well-known light-induced control mechanisms. No one has ever tried this before, despite, or maybe because of, the simplicity of the underlying idea. Our results are a good example of how novel results can be achieved by combining something known in a new way," says Academy Research Fellow Arri Priimägi who heads the Smart Photonic Materials group at TUT.

Nature paper "Reconfigurable photoactuator through synergistic use of photochemical and photothermal effects" by Markus Lahikainen, Hao Zeng, and Arri Priimagi describes the work of the researchers.

A Youtube video shows the light sensitive polymer in action:

The team has designed "an optical flytrap that was inspired by the way the Venus flytrap ensnares its prey. The optical flytrap is a small elastomer strip – less than one centimetre in length – that is glued onto an optical fibre into which blue light is coupled. When an object in the flytrap's field of view reflects light onto the elastomer surface, the strip bends itself around the object, capturing it like a Venus flytrap. The optical flytrap is able to lift hundreds of times its own weight."

Apple Sued for Dual Camera Patent Infringement

AppleInsider: California residents Yanbin Yu and Zhongxuan Zhang filed a lawsuit alleging Apple infringed on their US6611289 patent in the company's dual-camera mobile phones, such as iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. The patent named "Digital cameras using multiple sensors with multiple lenses" has been filed in 1999 and granted in 2003.

Apple has filed its own patent for a multi-sensor camera system in 2008. A patent examiner issued an office action rejecting 11 claims of Apple patent application as anticipated, or not novel, in relation to Yu and Zhang's patent. That way, Apple became aware of Yu and Zhang's prior art, but has not attempted to license it.

From US6611289 patent

Samsung Mid-Range Phone Features 4 Rear Cameras

Samsung Galaxy A9 mobile phone features 4 rear cameras:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

RoboSense Announces China’s Largest-ever Round of Financing for a LiDAR Company

PRNewswire, Thomas-PR: RoboSense announces the completion of China’s largest-ever single round of financing for a LiDAR company – a combined investment of over $45 million (RMB 300 million). The investors include Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Ltd. (“Cainiao”), the logistics arm of the Alibaba Group; SAIC Motor Group (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation), the largest publicly-traded auto manufacturer in China’s A-Share; and BAIC Group (Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co.) electric vehicle company.

Robosense claims to have an over 50% market share of all LiDAR sold in Asia becoming the market leader in the region. The new funding will be used to increase RoboSense’s market share and the R&D of autonomous vehicle technologies, including its solid-state LiDAR, AI sensing algorithms, and other advanced technologies, as well as accelerating product development, long-term manufacturing and market penetration.

The rapid development of autonomous driving has ignited a huge demand for LiDAR,” said Mark Qiu, co-founder of RoboSense. “RoboSense is embracing this market demand through partnerships with multiple industry leaders. It is our great pleasure to be endorsed and funded by industry giants from many different fields. This round of funding is not only for capital assistance, but also for strategic resources. We are looking forward to continuously working with our partners to lead the large-scale commercialization era of the autonomous driving industry.

IHS Markit predicts that by 2035, global sales of self-driving cars will reach 21 million vehicles, up from nearly 600,000 vehicles in 2025. IHS believes that by 2035, nearly 76 million vehicles with some level of autonomy will be sold globally.

Autonomous logistics vehicles are expected to become one of the first markets for autonomous vehicle technology. Based on data from Deloitte’s China Smart Logistics Development Report, the intelligent logistics market will reach $145 billion (RMB 1 trillion) by 2025.

In the past two years, RoboSense has had explosive growth:

  • In April 2017, the company started the mass production of its 16-beam automotive LiDAR.
  • In September 2017, the company mass-produced its 32-beam LiDAR, released a LiDAR-based autonomous driving environmental sensing AI system, and provided a software and hardware combined LiDAR environment sensing solution.
  • In October 2017, RoboSense launched its MEMS solid-state LiDAR, publicly exhibited for the first time at CES 2018 in January 2018.
  • In April 2018, RoboSense partnered with the Cainiao Network to launch the world’s first MEMS LiDAR autonomous logistics vehicle – the G Plus.