Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Rambus Lensless Sensor Presentation

Trillion Sensors Summit held on Nov. 12-13, 2014 in San Diego, publishes Rambus presentation "Lensless Computational Image Sensors as a Foundation for New Opportunities in Biotech" by David Stork. Few slides out of 32:

CEA-Leti too presented its lens-free biomedical imaging, although little details on the operating principle were given.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

High Camera Resolutions Become Privacy Threat

BBC reports that a member of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) hacker network, Jan Krissler, has been able to replicate the fingerprint of German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen using pictures taken with a "standard photo camera". Krissler had no physical print from Ms von der Leyen. He only had obtained a close-up photo of Ms von der Leyen's thumb and had also used other pictures taken at different angles during a press event that the minister had spoken at in October.

A Youtube video (in German) presents the idea:

VC Mobile Imaging Investments Down

CBInsights tracking VC investments registers reduced interest in mobile imaging opportunities. Whereas in Q2 2012 mobile video and photo were the major investment areas, they have disappeared from the Q3 2014 chart:

Monday, December 29, 2014

SSRM Pictures Image Sensor Doping

Bruker publishes a IMEC's Peter De Wolf presentation of the Scanning Surface Resistance Microscope (SSRM) useful for TCAD tools calibration, among many other things:

Thesis on Image Sensor Noise

Shizuoka University, Japan published a PhD Thesis "A Study on Noise Reduction in CMOS Image Sensors using High-Gain Front-end Readout Circuits" by Mohd Amrallah bin Mustafa, dated by Aug. 2013. The thesis goes through a quick overview of the major noise sources, including RTN:

Then, thesis goes through the ways to reduce the noise, like correlated multiple sampling (CMS), high gain ADC combined with PGA, and Histogram-based RTN Suppression and Averaging (HRS):

Then, a pixel with two amplifiers is proposed, where a selection circuit chooses the least noisy amplifier out of the two:

Sony Next Generation Global Shutter Sensors

Toshiba Teli's presentation at Vision Show 2014 reveals details of the new Sony Pregius image sensors with 3.45um global shutter pixels:

Thanks to CM for the pointer!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Intel RealSense Cameras

Intel has shown its front and rear RealSense cameras in its IDF 2014 presentation:

As another Intel presentation from April 2014 tells, the company invests quite a lot into 3D vision development:

nanoLambda Spectrometer

In continuation to the previous post, JS commented that nanoLambda has a similar to Hamamatsu small size spectrometer. NanoLambda's presentation at last year's Trillion Sensors Summit gives some background about the company, its product and applications:

Update: There is a newer nanoLambda presentation from Nov. 2014 build mostly around the emerging consumer applications. The presentation also shows the small spectrometers competition:

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hamamatsu Predicts Rise of Consumer Spectrometers

Hamamatsu announces C12666MA, a new compact and cost-effective spectrometer for consumer applications:

The company says: "There is a trade-off relation between the spectrometer size and performance characteristics. As the size becomes smaller, the resolution deteriorates and the performance also declines. Our microspectrometer employs a method that diffracts the light after internally reflecting it one time, and is designed to exhibit the highest possible performance that achieves both satisfactory size and performance characteristics in this type of spectrometer."

"a further step forward was needed in both size and price in order to have them accepted for widespread use in the consumer electronics market... Small spectrometers can be built into compact devices. For example, we can expect to see new applications linked to smartphones or medical devices used at home."

The only company I've heard of working on consumer spectrometer products is Consumer Physics, completed its Kickstarter campaign in May 2014:

Friday, December 26, 2014

Andor Compares EMCCD and CMOS Cameras

As Rob pointed in comments, there is a nice Andor webinar comparing trade-offs in EMCCD and sCMOS camera design:

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Transparency Market Research Forecasts $43.06 Billion Camera Module Market in 2019

Transparency Market Research predicts that the global camera module market will grow from a net worth of nearly $12.00 billion in 2012 to $43.06 billion by the end of 2019, growing at a CAGR of nearly 19.7% between 2013 and 2019. Rising demands for CMOS camera modules and robust expansion of the market in Asia-Pacific countries such as India, China, Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore are supporting growth of the market.

The global camera module market is highly fragmented with market players competing hard to acquire significant market shares. Major businesses operating in the global camera modules’ marketplace include SEMCO, Liteon Chicony, Toshiba, STMicro, LG-Innotek, Primax, Sharp, Foxconn, Sunny, Samsung Fiberoptic, BYD, Vista Point, Cowell, Truly, and KMOT.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

First Intel RealSense Products Go On Sale in Holland

Dutch PC Magazine reports that Netherlands is the first country where Intel RealSense 3D camera-equipped computers have become available on the market. Only two products featuring RealSense technology have reached the shops so far. Asus N551JQ Ultrabook offers the 3D camera as an option:

The second product is Lenovo B50-30 All-in-one PC, too offering RealSense camera and applications as an option.

The RealSense hardware has a visible camera, an IR camera, and a laser projector. The working distance is said to be 30-50cm.

Dutch site shows the first RealSense products and their camera:

Alexima Applies for GS Pixel with Tri-State Transfer Gate Patent

Alexima's patent application US20140367552 "Image sensors, methods, and pixels with tri-level biased transfer gates" by Jaroslav Hynecek and Alexander Krymski proposes a global shutter "pixel with a transfer gate that is controllable among at least three biasing conditions, including a first biasing condition in which electrons are transferable from a photodiode to a potential well under the transfer gate, a second biasing condition in which the electrons are confined in the potential well under the transfer gate, and a third biasing condition in which the electrons are transferable out of the potential well under the transfer gate." The pixel cross-section and its band diagram in all 3 modes is shown below:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dual Aperture Raises $5.7M in Series A Funding

Dual Aperture International (DAI) has raised $5.7M in Series A funding led by Value Invest Korea (VIK), based in Seoul, South Korea. eWBM, a licensee of DAI’s technology, also participated in the round.

Cheol Lee, CEO of VIK says, “In the past few years, many companies have tried to enable low-cost and low-power 3-D image capture, depth estimation and gesture tracking. We think it’s time to approach the problem anew. We see Dual Aperture’s technology as a game changer and with the engineering resources and world class engineers of CISS, we see an opportunity for Dual Aperture International to disrupt the imaging business in mobile and beyond.

Dual Aperture's technology and alliances have been covered here, here and here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Rice University Develops Atomic-Thin CCD

Rice University: Sidong Lei, a graduate student in the Rice lab of materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan, synthesized a single-layer matrix of copper, indium and selenium atoms (CIS). Lei also built a prototype three-pixel CCD to prove the material’s ability to capture an image:

The device traps electrons formed when light hits the material and holds them until released for storage, Lei said. CIS pixels are highly sensitive to light because the trapped electrons dissipate so slowly, said Robert Vajtai, a senior faculty fellow in Rice’s Department of Materials Science and NanoEngineering. “There are many two-dimensional materials that can sense light, but none are as efficient as this material,” he said. “This material is 10 times more efficient than the best we’ve seen before.

No info on the new sensor's QE is given, however article states that the sensor is transparent.

Manufacturing process starts with few-layer exfoliated CIS on a silicon substrate, ten fabricates three pairs of titanium/gold electrodes on top of the CIS and then cuts the CIS into three sections with a focused ion beam.

Sony Pregius Presentation

Spectronet posted a presentation "Sony Pregius sensors: A quantum leap for machine vision cameras" by Horst Mattfeldt, Matrix Vision GmbH. Most of it is devoted to the first generation 5.8um pixel IMX174 sensor:

There is also Vimeo video version in German.

Friday, December 19, 2014

BASF Chemical 3D Sensor

Germany-based BASF, the world's biggest chemical company, develops a 3D image sensor and a camera. "In 2011, BASF scientists invented a new technology with the potential to impact markets as diverse as consumer electronics, automotives, medical applications, and the security industry. At the heart of this technology is a new physical effect, enabled by chemistry developed within BASF. Through a novel distance measurement technique, 3D position detection and 3D imaging can be performed as never before.

Up to now, in state-of-the-art technologies, 3D information was captured either passively by calculating the information from pictures of different perspective angles (triangulation), e.g in stereoscopic cameras, or actively by time-of-flight measurements (ToF). Both traditional technologies use up a large amount of computing power and often require postproduction processing. Now, the BASF sensor works passively with only one lens, and it does not need triangulation for the 3D data capture; this significantly decreases the demand for computing power and makes the 3D data capture very fast: with the new BASF 3D sensor technology real-time 3D imaging may find it’s way into our daily lives.

BASF 3D Sensor

A 120 page-long patent application WO2012110924 "Detector for optically detecting at least one object" by Mohamedi Haroun Al, Ingmar Bruder, Felix Eickemeyer, Peter Erk, Stephan Irle, Andreas Pelster, RĂ¼diger Sens, and Erwin Thiel, explains how it works:

"the invention is based generally on the hitherto unreported and surprising insight that specific optical sensors exist whose sensor signal is not only dependent on a total light power of the illumination of the sensor region, for example of the sensor area, of these sensors but in which a pronounced signal dependence on a geometry of the illumination, for example a size of a light spot of the illumination on the sensor region, for example the sensor area, also exists. This is generally not the case for most conventional optical sensors, in particular for most inorganic semiconductor sensors, since here the sensor signal is generally dependent only on a total power of the illumination, that is to say an integral over the intensity over the entire light spot which is generally independent of the size of the light spot, that is to say the geometry of the illumination, as long as the light spot lies within the limits of the sensor region. It has surprisingly been discovered, however, that in specific optical sensors, for example organic optical sensors, such a dependence of the sensor signal occurs in which the sensor signal on the one hand rises with the total power of the illumination, but on the other hand, even given a constant total power, is dependent on a geometry of the illumination. Examples of such optical sensors are explained in even greater detail below. By way of example, the sensor signal, given the same total power, can have at least one pronounced maximum for one or a plurality of focusings and/or for one or a plurality of specific sizes of the light spot on the sensor area or within the sensor region."

The application then states that the organic dye-based sensor's response changes if the light is modulated, and using a modulation at different frequencies at two sensors, one can separate illumination and geometrical data. Then the description says:

"In contrast to known detectors, in which a spatial resolution and/or imaging of objects is also generally tied to the fact that the smallest possible sensor areas are used, for example the smallest possible pixels in the case of CCD chips, the sensor region of the proposed detector can be embodied in a very large fashion, in principle, since for example the geometrical information, in particular the at least one item of location information, about the object can be generated from a known relationship for example between the geometry of the illumination and the sensor signal."

The application does not explain much about the processing and how the distance is measured:

The last part of the application is filled by rows of organic chemistry formulas, not sure what they mean:

Philips CCD Camera Gets Emmy Award

Grass Valley's LDK 6000 DPM CCD Multiformat HDTV Camera System, first introduced at the NAB Show in 2000 by Phillips, which was subsequently acquired by Grass Valley, gets 2014 Emmy Award for its ability to capture multiple video formats and frame rates without physically changing the image sensor.

Based on Grass Valley's patented Dynamic Pixel Management (DPM) imager technology, the LDK 6000 Camera has been used in a wide variety of high-profile sports events and broadcasting projects. "The Philips LDK6000 HD Camera System, first demonstrated in 2000, uses their patented DPM (Dynamic Pixel Management) imager technology, enabling the camera to capture multiple video formats and frame rates without physically changing the image sensor. The DPM sensor, a full frame transfer (FT) 2/3" type CCD imager, combines 9.2 million sub pixels (1920x4320) to capture 1920x1080, 1280x720, 720x576, or 720x480 pixel images in 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratios as well as 2.37:1 (Cinemascope). The DPM sensor, coupled with a mechanical blade shutter, eliminates the vertical artifacts and distortions exhibited by an Interline Transfer (IT) CCD type sensor."

"Our patented CCD technology was a real breakthrough in 2000, and the work we are doing now with our FT-CMOS technology is the next step. Being out front in capture technology guarantees that our customers will always be ready for any opportunity that arises in the future," noted Mike Cronk, SVP of strategic marketing, Grass Valley.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gentex Announces HDR CMOS Sensor with Per-Pixel Exposure Control

Marketwired: Gentex announces an HDR image sensor with per-pixel exposure control: "Automotive video for rear vision requires a camera with high dynamic range, which is the ratio between the brightest and darkest areas of a given scene. The challenge is to display the details in the darkest and brightest areas of a given scene simultaneously, without causing the display to "washout" due to bright light sources. The new Gentex camera meets this challenge in a unique way, with a proprietary CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) imager that delivers unprecedented dynamic range. The imager allows each individual camera pixel to choose its own exposure, self-adjusting so that the brightest and darkest areas of any given scene are clear and visible."

Gentex' Nov 2014 investor presentation gives a little bit more detail on the new HDR sensor: