Monday, March 18, 2019

Sony Announces Stacked BSI 2.74um Global Shutter Pixel Technology

Sony announces Pregius S, a stacked CMOS sensor technology that employs a proprietary global shutter function with BSI pixel to combine distortion-free, high imaging performance and miniaturization. The new sensor technology is intended for industrial applications.

Conventional CMOS image sensors equipped with global shutter function temporarily store charge signals in the memory area located next to the photodiode to resolve image distortion (focal plane distortion) caused by the time shift due to the row-by-row readout. In FSI CMOS sensors, there is a wiring layer on the silicon substrate forming the photodiode, and with such a structure, the benefit is that it is easy to form a light shield for protecting the charge signal temporarily stored in the memory area from leaked light. For this reason, conventional CMOS image sensors with global shutter function have adopted a FSI pixel structure. However, the wiring on top of the photodiode hinders the incident light, which creates an issue when attempting to miniaturize the pixels.

In response to this, Sony has developed a proprietary pixel structure that achieves the global shutter function on a BSI structure that has superior sensitivity characteristics. Normally, when pixels are miniaturized, the sensitivity and saturation characteristics deteriorate, but the new Sony technology enables a reduction in pixel size to 2.74 μm while maintaining performance of those characteristic, thereby achieving about 1.7 times higher resolution than conventional FSI CMOS sensors. Moreover, thanks to the high degree of freedom of the wiring layout of BSI pixel structures, a high speed of about 2.4 times that of conventional sensor can be achieved. In addition, the sensor’s stacked structure makes it possible to mount various signal processing circuits, whereby it is possible to realize smart functions such as signal processing only for the necessary part of the measurement and inspection images in a smaller size compared to conventional sensors.

Going forward, Sony will work to develop products equipped with this stacked CMOS sensor employing its proprietary global shutter function with BSI pixel structure for various industrial applications and intelligent transportation systems, including development of derivatives for signal processing circuits to be mounted. Sony plans to start shipping sample units in the summer of 2019 or later.

SiOnyx Color Sensor vs Night Vision Tube

SiOnyx publishes a video comparing its color night vision with Gen 3 photomultiplying tube:

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Sony ToF Module Reverse Engineering

SystemPlus publishes a reverse engineering report of Soony-Softkinetic ToF module found Oppo Rx17 Pro smartphone:

"Oppo is now pioneering the use of 3D Time-of-Flight (ToF) in its Rx17 Pro. Lenovo did a similar integration on the rear of one of its products a few years ago, integrating a pmd/Infineon solution in a high-end phone. In doing this, Asus and Lenovo added an additional Near Infra-Red (NIR) Global Shutter (GS) camera, but Oppo doesn’t have such a dedicated NIR GS Camera. Instead, Oppo uses the latest generation of ToF camera technology from Sony Depthsensing Solutions, formerly known as SoftKinetic.

The rear optical hub is packaged in one metal enclosure and features several cameras and a flood illuminator. The complete system features a telephoto and wide-angle camera module and a 3D ToF camera. The distinguishing characteristic of the 3D depth sensing camera is the addition of a NIR flood illuminator.

All components are standard and can be found on the market. That includes a BackSide Illumination (BSI) ToF image sensor featuring 10 µm x 10 µm size pixels and resolution of 46 kilopixel, developed by Sony Depthsensing Solutions. It also has one vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) for the flood illuminator, coming from a major supplier. This is the first ToF imager found on the market featuring BSI technology, which is commonly used by Sony, coupled with Current Assisted Photonic Demo-dulation (CPAD) developed by Sony Depthsensing Solutions.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Entropix Cloud Processing to Improve Moto Z2 Dual Camera Resolution to 100MP

BusinessWire: Entropix announces that it is collaborating with Lenovo to explore the potential of Lenovo’s dual sensor smartphone with Entropix cloud Resolution Engine and computer vision management system to develop an end-to-end hyper-accurate visual classification and recognition platform for a multitude of potential applications including enterprise security, retail, logistics and supply chain.

This collaboration with Lenovo’s Intelligent Devices Group will allow Entropix to provide a dual sensor edge visual capture system containing the benefits of a topline smartphone, with an open edge analytics SDK,” said Nathan Wheeler, CEO of Entropix. “When connected to Entropix enterprise visual and meta management software and cloud Resolution Engine, our customers can achieve recognition and classification accuracy at up to 100MP resolution on an easily deployable 4G and 5G scale.

The collaboration will feature:
  • moto z2 force smartphone with modified OS, dual 12MP color/monochrome camera
  • Qualcomm Neural Processing SDK for TensorFlow edge detection analytics
  • Entropix smartphone dual sensor computer vision image capture application
  • Entropix Resolution on Demand GPU cloud software service in Lenovo’s AI Innovation Center for processing resolutions up to 100MP for accurate classification systems
  • Enterprise visual and meta management system with SDK/API for easy application integration and enterprise deployment options

ResearchInChina on Automotive Vision Market

ResearchInChina publishes "ADAS and Autonomous Driving Industry Chain Report 2018-2019 -- Automotive Vision" report. Few quotes:

"Driver monitoring systems (DMS) is largely needed by commercial vehicle ADAS and will be a standard configuration for future L3 passenger cars. Half of vision-based ADAS companies are developing DMS, including EyeSight, Shenzhen Autocruis Technology Co., Ltd., Roadefend Vision Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., Whetron Electronics Co., Ltd., Wuhan JIMU Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd., Minieye, Beijing Smarter Eye Technology Co., Ltd. and Black Sesame Technologies.

Continental AG rolled out MFC500, a fifth-generation automotive camera capable of night vision.

In 2018 Denso developed a new vision sensor which improves vehicle’s night vision by using a solid-state imaging device and unique lenses specifically designed for low-light conditions.

In 2018 Israel-based Foresight unveiled its QuadSight quad-camera vision system. Using four-camera technology that combines two pairs of stereoscopic infrared and visible-light cameras, the system is designed to achieve near 100% obstacle detection with near zero false alerts in any weather or light conditions (including complete darkness, rain, haze, fog and glare).

3D sensing is now one of the key development orientations of camera technology.

AMS and Sunny Optical announced in November 2017 a joint plan to develop 3D sensing solutions for mobile devices and automotive application.

ZF is developing a kind of three-dimension interior observation system (3D IOS) that can detect occupants in a car and classify them to ascertain their sizes and positions as well as whether the occupant is manipulating the car willingly or monitoring the autonomous driving system.

Magna and Renesas collaborate in fusion of Magna’s eyeris 3D surround-view camera system with the latter’s SoC (system-on-a-chip) to develop a more cost-effective 3D surround-view system especially for entry-level and mid-range cars.

In 2018, the OEM installations of cameras (inclusive of front view, rear view, side view, interior view, surround view, driving recorder camera, among others.) to passenger car reached 20.584 million units with a year-on-year surge of 14.9%, of which front camera soared 28% YoY, surround-view camera shot up by 30.1% YoY, and stereo camera skyrocketed 170.3% YoY.

Anitoa Super-Sensitive Sensor Enables Compact Gene Sequencing Machine

PRNewswire: Anitoa announces the Android mobile apps for its Maverick family of 4-channel qPCR system that can test 4 nucleic acid targets simultaneously in one sample, and up-to 64 genetic tests simultaneously in a 16-well model. When the Maverick qPCR system is connected to an Android smartphone or tablet through USB or Bluetooth, the Android mobile apps automatically detects and performs genetic tests for users who can benefit from getting actionable results within 30 minutes.

Maverick qPCR is light-weight, portable and lower cost, thanks to its proprietary and industry's most sensitive ultra-low light CMOS bio-optical sensor capable of 3e-6 lux low-light detection. The entire device weighs between 950g to 1.5Kg for 4/8/16-well models.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Recent Image Sensing Awards

ON Semi receives a 2018 China IoT Best Innovative Product Award for its AR0430 CMOS sensor for its innovative design and rich feature set at this year’s IoT Star Awards organized by China IoT Industry Application Alliance.

The AR0430 delivers leading power consumption and scales with frame rate so users can have operational modes that produce 4MP images at less than 8 mW of power consumption. The AR0430 also incorporates proprietary Super Depth technology, comprising a CFA, advanced algorithm and micro-lens, providing a depth map of the area 1 meter in front of the image sensor. This depth map enables a range of IoT applications, such as gesture recognition and 3D models for AR/VR user experiences.

When operating in normal mode, the sensor generates a 4 MP data stream at 30 fps and requires just 110 mW of power. It also supports 120 fps output for slow motion mode yet consumes as little as 8 mW in monitoring mode.

Commenting on the award, Gianluca Colli, VP and GM, Consumer Solution Division of Image Sensor Group, ON Semiconductor said: “Our AR0430 is truly an innovative image sensor and stands out as an enabling technology for IoT applications. For that to be recognized and receive a Star of IoT Award, is a great honor. We will continue to develop innovative products and solutions to help our customers meet their challenges as well as contributing to drive the IoT industry.

Omnivision receives 3DInCites Device Manufacturer and Device of the Year Award with its next-generation OS02C10 Image Sensor for facial recognition in security cameras with artificial intelligence:

"Our new OS02C10 image sensor combines our breakthrough ultra low light (ULL) and industry-leading Nyxel™ near-infrared (NIR) technologies for the industry’s best nighttime camera performance, enabling designers to integrate facial-recognition AI in all lighting conditions.

Our Nyxel NIR technology infuses the OS02C10 with quantum efficiency (QE) of 60% at 850nm and 40% at 940nm, which is 2x to 4x better than the competition. This enables the use of less IR light in total darkness, resulting in an estimated 3x lower power consumption.

The OS02C10 also has a superior low-noise design for better ULL performance, achieving an SNR1 of 0.16 lux while producing 1080p HD images. Our proprietary dual-conversion-gain technology provides the industry’s best ULL performance, while the 3-frame staggered shutter minimizes motion artifacts and enables a 120dB high dynamic range.

Omnivision, Panasonic, GigaJot, and Eduardo Charbon (EPFL and TUDelft) win 2019 Image Sensor Europe Awards:

Sony 7.42MP Automotive Sensors with RCCC and RCCB CFA

Sony publishes an updated flyer of its 7.42MP automotive HDR image sensors IMX324 and IMX424 featuring RCCC and RCCB color filters, respectively:

Hamamatsu ToF Sensor Use Cases

Hamamatsu publishes a couple of videos on its ToF sensors use cases:

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Espros on ToF Sensing Know-How and QE Comparison with Sony, Melexis

Espros March 2019 Newsletter (not on their site yet but should appear soon) shares its CEO Beat De Coi thoughts on ToF imaging education:

"Did you know that the implementation of a TOF or LiDAR system needs professional competence in nine engineering majors? To me, that's the reason that probably nine out of ten TOF projects crash. At least this is my gut-feeling.

Some of the projects fail right at the beginning, which is good since the investment was limited. Others fail after years of trial and error engineering. Either way it is difficult to accept given the frustration and unrealistic expectations.

Remark: The University of Applied Sciences HTW in Chur/Switzerland offers a Bachelor of Science in Photonics since 2016. An important part of the lectures is TOF theory, implementation and application.

The Newsletter also compares Espros ToF pixels with Sony and Melexis competition:

"Competitor imagers have a 10μm pixel pitch whereas our epc611, 635 and 660 imager feature a 20μm pixel. The sensitivity is proportional to the pixel area which is 400μm2 in an ESPROS TOF imager, whereas it is just 100μm2 in the competitor devices. Smaller pixel pitch results in higher spatial resolution but at the cost of sensitivity which is more important in real world applications. All in all, the achievable operating range with the same illumination power is significantly higher with ESPROS TOF imagers."

Canon Global Shutter Pixel with Dual Memory

Japanese Journal of Applied Physics publishes Canon paper "A 3.4 μm pixel pitch global shutter CMOS image sensor with dual in-pixel charge domain memory" by Masahiro Kobayashi, Hiroshi Sekine, Takafumi Miki, Takashi Muto, Toshiki Tsuboi, Yusuke Onuki, Yasushi Matsuno, Hidekazu Takahashi, Takeshi Ichikawa, and Shunsuke Inoue.

"In this paper, we describe a newly developed 3.4 μm pixel pitch global shutter CMOS image sensor (CIS) with dual in-pixel charge domain memories (CDMEMs) has about 5.3 M effective pixels and achieves 19 ke− full well capacity, 30 ke−/lxcenterdots sensitivity, 2.8 e- rms temporal noise, and −83 dB parasitic light sensitivity. In particular, we describe the sensor structure for improving the sensitivity and detail of the readout procedure. Furthermore, this image sensor realizes various readout with dual CDMEMs. For example, an alternate multiple-accumulation high dynamic range readout procedure achieves 60 fps operation and over 110 dB dynamic range in one-frame operation and is suitable in particular for moving object capturing. This front-side-illuminated CIS is fabricated in a 130 nm 1P4M with light shield CMOS process."

Monday, March 11, 2019

Counterpoint on Corephotonics Acquisition by Samsung

Counterpoint Research publishes its analysis of Corephotonics acquisition by Samsung:

"We expect Samsung to use Corephotonics as a Strategic Business Unit (SBU) rather than purely as a captive supplier of R&D for its own smartphones.

Samsung doesn’t have a good track record managing its acquisitions. It will likely keep Corephotonics somewhat independent like Bixby, but with the risk of losing core talent. If that happens Corephotonics will likely lose its competitive edge in as little as 12 months.

Teledyne e2v Announces 5MP GS Sensor

GlobeNewswire: Teledyne e2v announces the expansion of its Emerald family of CMOS image sensors with a new 5MP device. The Emerald 5M is designed for machine vision, Automated Optical Inspection (AOI), and factory automation applications. Available in both monochrome and color, this sensor has a small 1/1.8 inch optical format, containing a 2.8 μm global shutter pixel, and can stream video at 50 fps at 10 bits, over a 4 wire, MIPI CSI-2 interface.

Samples are available in Q1 2019.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Reflected Laser Light Causes Damage to Image Sensor

Reddit: We have seen image sensor damage from a direct laser beam hit, but it turns out that a diffusely reflected laser light can cause damage too. In this short video, a tattoo removal laser cases multiple spot damage to Sony A7SII full-frame sensor:

Via: SonyAlphaRumors, DPReview

Qualcomm ISPs Support up to 192MP Image Sensor Resolution

XDA Developers: Qualcomm has updated the specs of its Spectra 250, 280, and 380 ISPs in its Snapdragon 855, 845, 710, 675, and 670 SoCs. The new specs state that they all support 192MP image sensors, Multi-Frame Noise Reduction (MFNR), and Zero Shutter Lag (ZSL):

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Thesis on Mechanical Stress Influence on Image Sensors

As somebody mentioned in comments to the curved sensor post, University of Duisburg-Essen published 2014 PhD Thesis "Photodiodes and Image Sensors on Mechanically Flexible
Ultra-Thin Silicon Chips-in-Foil
" by Georgios Dogiamis. However, the experimental results on stress influence on dark current shows very little influence, much smaller than what Marseilles University group has measured:

Friday, March 08, 2019

2-sided Lensless Sensor

It still remains to be seen whether lensless image sensors are able to find a market beyond the under-display fingerprint applications. Meanwhile, Tokyo Institute of Technology and Shuzuoka University propose a 2-sided version of lensless imager in a Preprint paper "Super Field-of-View Lensless Camera by Coded Image Sensors" by Tomoya Nakamura, Keiichiro Kagawa, Shiho Torashima, Masahiro Yamaguchi.

"A lensless camera is an ultra-thin computational-imaging system. Existing lensless cameras are based on the axial arrangement of an image sensor and a coding mask, and therefore, the back side of the image sensor cannot be captured. In this paper, we propose a lensless camera with a novel design that can capture the front and back sides simultaneously. The proposed camera is composed of multiple coded image sensors, which are complementary-metal-oxide-semiconductor~(CMOS) image sensors in which air holes are randomly made at some pixels by drilling processing. When the sensors are placed facing each other, the object-side sensor works as a coding mask and the other works as a sparsified image sensor. The captured image is a sparse coded image, which can be decoded computationally by using compressive-sensing-based image reconstruction. We verified the feasibility of the proposed lensless camera by simulations and experiments. The proposed thin lensless camera realizes super field-of-view imaging without lenses or coding masks, and therefore can be used for rich information sensing in confined spaces. This work also suggests a new direction in the design of CMOS image sensors in the era of computational imaging."

Silicon Valley LiDAR Companies

Silicon Valley Business Journal publishes a gallery of local LiDAR companies CEOs together with the company's data:

"Seven venture-backed startups from the Bay Area are among the more than 70 companies working on automotive lidar today. Two of them have the highest valuations in the world, according to PitchBook Data and others."

Sony Unveils 1-inch Sensor for 360 deg Cameras

Sony 9MP IMX533 sensor has 1:1 aspect ratio for the emerging market of 360 deg consumer cameras and camcorders. The new device features 3.76um BSI pixel for wider CRA of fish-eye lenses, 14b ADC, and is fairly fast to be useful in a video camera:

Update: It appears that Sony has already announced IMX533 sensor 1.5 year ago. Not sure why it's marked as new announcement and "preliminary info" at Sony site.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Curving Improves Image Sensor Dark Current

Arxiv.oorg paper "Curved detectors for astronomical applications: characterization results on different samples" by Lombardo Simona, Behaghel Thibault, Chambion Bertrand, Caplet Stephane, Jahn Wilfried, Hugot Emmanuel, Muslimov Eduard, Roulet Melanie, Ferrari Marc, Gaschet Christophe, and Henry David from CEA-Leti, Marseille and Grenoble Universities, France, and Caltech reports dark current reduction in curved sensors:

"The development of curved detectors allows to enhance the performances of the optical system used (telescope or astronomical instrument), while keeping the system more compact. We describe here a set of five curved CMOS detectors developed within a collaboration between CEA-LETI and CNRS-LAM. These fully-functional detectors 20 Mpix (CMOSIS CMV20000) have been curved to different radii of curvature and spherical shapes (both convex and concave) over a size of 24x32 mm^2. Before being able to use them for astronomical observations, we assess the impact of the curving process on their performances. We perform a full electro-optical characterization of the curved detectors, by measuring the gain, the full well capacity, the dynamic-range and the noise properties, such as dark current, readout noise, pixel-relative-non-uniformity. We repeat the same process for the flat version of the same CMOS sensor, as a reference for comparison. We find no significant difference among most of the characterization values of the curved and flat samples. We obtain values of readout noise of 10e− for the curved samples compared to the 11e− of the flat sample, which provides slightly larger dynamic ranges for the curved detectors. Additionally we measure consistently smaller values of dark current compared to the flat CMOS sensor. The curving process for the prototypes shown in this paper does not significantly impact the performances of the detectors. These results represent the first step towards their astronomical implementation."

ON Semi Automotive Sensors in Low Light Tests

ON Semi publishes a demo video of its automotive sensor performance in low light:

Xperi on Use Cases of 3D Camera in Smartphone

TechTheLead publishes an interview with Greg DeCamp, Xperi Fotonation's FaceSafe Product Manager, the software used in LG G8 ThinQ smartphone with PMD ToF camera:

Another application for 3D camera is 3D Portrait:

Teledyne-e2v Presents 1.3MP TOF Sensor

e2v ToF BORA sensor has 10um pixels and 1.3MP resolution:

  • One single sensor enabling a 1.3MP 2D high definition image and several 3D depth resolutions
  • Binning allows VGA and QVGA 3D depth map
  • HDR for lower noise and better accuracy at long distance
  • Long distance range: (0.5m to 5m) or (5m to 50m)
  • 3D detection from fast moving objects

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Melexis Announces ToF Sensor That Uses Sony BSI Process

Melexis announces MLX75027, the industry’s first single-chip automotive grade VGA ToF image sensor for applications such as in-car and exterior monitoring.

Apparently, the MLX75027 sensor stacks Sony Back Illuminated pixel array manufactured in 90nm process on top of Melexis-designed SOC. “This is the next and perhaps most significant release in our product portfolio targeting automotive applications using ToF technology,” commented Gualtiero Bagnuoli, Marketing Manager Optical Sensors. “Not only does it reinforce Melexis’ leadership in this space, it provides Tier 1 and Tier 2 manufacturers with a single-chip solution that really could help revolutionise the automotive industry.

Sampling of the MLX75027 will start in July 2019.

Some of the key features of the new sensor:
  • 1/2" optical format
  • VGA (640 x 480) pixel array
  • 10 x 10 µm DepthSense pixels
  • Integrated microlenses
  • Backside illumination (BSI) technology
  • External QE 44.3% (850nm)
  • External QE 25.5% (940nm)
  • High distance accuracy due to programmable modulating frequencies up to 100 MHz
  • AC Demodulation contrast >85 % (50 MHz)
  • AC Demodulation contrast >69 % (100 MHz)
  • Differential light source control with phase delay feedback loop
  • Full resolution distance framerate of max. 135 FPS (4 phases, Tint 300µs, 4-lane data @960mbps MIPI configuration)
  • 1.5ms phase readout time
  • Up to 8 raw phases (or quads) per frame
  • Per-phase statistics & diagnostics
  • Continuous or triggered operation mode(s)
  • CSI-2 serial data output, MIPI D-PHY, 1 clock lane, 2 or 4 data lanes (< 960 Mbps/lane)
  • Built-in temperature sensor
  • ROI selection
  • Support for binning (2x2, 4x4, 8x8)
  • Ambient operating temperature range of -40 - 105°C
  • AEC-Q100 qualified (grade 2)

Hynix to Manufacture CIS in China

Digitimes reports that Hinyx 8-inch fab construction in Wuxi, China nears completion. The fab is aimed to non-memory products, including image sensors. New fab capacity is 100,000 wafers per month.

Image is from TheElec site.