Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Sony Opens New Design Center in Trento, Italy

Sony Europe VC, Antonio Avitabile, announces a new design center in Trento, Italy. Trento is a home of FBK, one of the major SPAD development hubs in Europe.

Assorted Videos: Omnivision, Omron, Polight, Wooptix, Senseeker, Ishikawa Lab, Bedabrata Pain

Omnivision publishes a Q&A session on its small size endoscopic sensor OH0TA:

Omron presents its ToF sensor applications in people monitoring:

Wooptix Imaging presents the Polight lens application in lightfield selfie camera in smartphones (via Android Authority)

Senseeker publishes a video about its Oxygen ROIC:

Ishikawa Lab at Tokyo University publishes a video on 1ms high speed image vision processing:

Sundry Dialogue publishes an interview with Bedabrata Pain who worked on the first CMOS sensors at JPL but later abandoned his technology career to start a new one in the movie industry:

"In 1990s, Bedabrata Pain was part of a team that invented the active pixel sensor technology that produced the world's smallest camera and has been inducted to the US Space Technology Hall of Fame. Now it is used from cell-phone cameras to movie cameras (such as those used by RED) to those in space telescopes. Bedo, holds over 90 patents and is an inductee to the US Space Technology Hall of Fame. He was an award winning senior research scientist at NASA and Caltech for over 15 years, till he quit NASA to become a film-maker."

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Is Array of Cameras Patentable?

Reuters and National Law Review publishes an interesting article discussing a case of  Yu v Apple, Appeal No. 2020-1760  (Fed. Cir., June 11, 2021) concluding that US Patent 6,611,289 "Digital Cameras Using Multiple Sensors with Multiple Lenses" is not patent-eligible.

Inivation Presentation

Inivation presents the company's history and progress in event-based cameras:

Omnivision's Presentation on Event-Based Sensors

Shoushun Chen, Founder of CelePixel acquired by Omnivision, Will Semiconductor, presents the company latest developments in image sensors at CVPR 2021 Workshop on Event-based Vision:

Sony Work on Event-Based Image Sensors

RPG Workshops publishes a talk by Christian Brändli, CEO of Sony Advanced Vision Sensors - AVS (used to be CEO of Insightness startup in Switzerland, acquired by Sony in June 2020). The slides are available on Github.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Cadence Sees Interest to Integration of its AI Processor with Image Sensors

Semiconductor Engineering publishes an interview with Pulin Desai, group director for product marketing, management and business development at Cadence. Pulin seys that Cadence sees an interest to integration of its AI and DSP processors with image sensors:

IDTechEx on Emerging Image Sensor Technologies

IDTechEx publishes a report "Emerging Image Sensor Technologies 2021-2031: Applications and Markets."

While conventional CMOS detectors for visible light are well established and somewhat commoditized, at least for low value applications, there is an extensive opportunity for more complex image sensors that offer capabilities beyond that of simply acquiring red, green and blue (RGB) intensity values. As such, extensive effort is currently being devoted to developing emerging image sensor technologies that can detect aspects of light beyond human vision. This includes imaging over a broader spectral range, over a larger area, acquiring spectral data at each pixel, and simultaneously increasing temporal resolution and dynamic range.

The report covers the following technologies:
  • Quantum dots on silicon hybrid image sensors
  • Organic photodetectors on silicon hybrid image sensors
  • Emerging SWIR image sensor technologies
  • Organic and perovskite photodiodes (OPDs and PPDs)
  • Event-based vision
  • Hyperspectral imaging
  • Flexible x-ray image sensors
  • Wavefront imaging

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Worker Monitoring with Sony AI Vision Sensor, Canon's "Smile in the Office" Initiative

Sony publishes a video demo showing worker monitoring use case for its IMX500 sensor:

Nikkei Asia (reprinted by KrAsia) publishes an opinion about the worker monitoring systems:

"Workers are not being replaced by algorithms and artificial intelligence. Instead, the management is being sort of augmented by these technologies," said Nick Srnicek, a Lecturer in Digital Economy at the King's College of London. For example, with the development of digital technologies, management can monitor workers who are not in a centralized space, he said.

"Technologies are increasing the pace for people who work with machines instead of the other way around, just like what happened during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century," he said. "The same thing is happening today. Humans just have little autonomy over that."

It appears that AI-vision systems find more use in the office. Electronics Weekly and Nikkei Asia (reprinted by KrAsia) report about a new Canon China initiative:

"Last year, a Chinese subsidiary of Japanese camera maker Canon, Canon Information Technology in Beijing, unveiled a new workspace management system that only allows smiling employees to enter the office and book conference rooms. Using so-called "smile recognition" technology, Canon said the system intended to bring more cheerfulness to office in the post-pandemic era.

The software is in use in its Beijing office and is being marketed at companies in Singapore. However, many workers found the use of such technology intrusive. "So now the companies are not only manipulating our time, but also our emotions," one user said on Weibo. 

A spokesperson for Canon China, however, told Nikkei that the software was intended to help create a positive atmosphere: "We have been wanting to encourage employees to create a positive atmosphere by utilizing this system with the smile detection setting 'on'," the spokesperson said. "Mostly, people are just too shy to smile, but once they get used to smiles in the office, they just keep their smiles without the system which created positive and lively atmosphere.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

HDR Hallucinations

I like the title of this paper on AI-based DR expansion: "Deep HDR Hallucination for Inverse Tone Mapping" by Demetris Marnerides, Thomas Bashford-Rogers, and Kurt Debattista from University of Warwick and University of the West of England.

"Inverse Tone Mapping (ITM) methods attempt to reconstruct High Dynamic Range (HDR) information from Low Dynamic Range (LDR) image content. The dynamic range of well-exposed areas must be expanded and any missing information due to over/under-exposure must be recovered (hallucinated). The majority of methods focus on the former and are relatively successful, while most attempts on the latter are not of sufficient quality, even ones based on Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs). A major factor for the reduced inpainting quality in some works is the choice of loss function. Work based on Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) shows promising results for image synthesis and LDR inpainting, suggesting that GAN losses can improve inverse tone mapping results. This work presents a GAN-based method that hallucinates missing information from badly exposed areas in LDR images and compares its efficacy with alternative variations. The proposed method is quantitatively competitive with state-of-the-art inverse tone mapping methods, providing good dynamic range expansion for well-exposed areas and plausible hallucinations for saturated and under-exposed areas. A density-based normalisation method, targeted for HDR content, is also proposed, as well as an HDR data augmentation method targeted for HDR hallucination."

Friday, June 11, 2021

Sony Completes Nagasaki Fab5 Construction

The new Sony fab, “Fab5,” whose construction had been started in 2020 on the premises of Sony Semiconductor Manufacturing’s Nagasaki Technology Center (Nagasaki TEC”) in Isahaya City, Nagasaki Prefecture, has been completed. A building completion ceremony was held on April 20th.

At the ceremony, Kenichiro Yoshida, Representative Corporate Executive Officer, Chairman, President and CEO of Sony Group Corporation, delivered a greeting as a representative of the organizers, stating:

Among the various technologies that supports our diverse businesses, the core is imaging and sensing technologies, represented by our CMOS image sensors. They are the key device for smartphone cameras, which is indispensable part of people's daily lives and Sony's CMOS image sensors has the No.1 global market share.

We remain grateful for all of your support, and Sony will continue to work together as one to deliver the image sensors produced here at the Nagasaki Technology Center to our customers around the world.