Monday, March 21, 2022

Sony standardization efforts

Sony presents its effort to make its proprietary image sensor interface SLVS-EC a new international standard. Here's an excerpt from a recently published interview with K. Koide, M. Akahide, and H. Takahashi of the Sony Semiconductor Solutions group.  

Koide:I work in the standardization for the mobility area. Products in this category, such as automobiles, are strictly regulated by laws and regulations because of their immediate implications to society, the natural environment, and economic activities as well as to people’s lives and assets. Therefore, products that fail to comply with these laws and regulations cannot even make it to the market. On top of the compliance as a prerequisite, safety must be ensured. This “safety” requires cooperation of diverse stakeholders, from those who are involved in car manufacturing, automotive components, and transport infrastructure such as road systems to road users and local residents. My responsibilities include identifying the rules to be established in order to ensure safety as well as considering the domains and technology relevant to the rules where SSS Group can make its contributions and preparing our business strategies ready for the implementation.

Takahashi:I am involved in the standardization concerning the telecommunication of mobile devices like smartphones and automotive mobility devices. The telecommunication requires the transmitter and the receiver of signals use the same language, and standardization is essential for this reason. The telecommunication subgroup is standardizing the protocol, process, and electronic signal concerning the communication between an image sensor and processor.

Akahide:Like Takahashi-san, I am working on the standardization of image sensor interfaces. This is intended for image sensors for industrial applications. I was invited to work with the Japan Industrial Imaging Association (JIIA) on standardization because they wanted to standardize our SLVS-EC, a high-speed interface which SSS Group developed. As mentioned earlier, interfaces would be worth very little if they were not adopted widely. I believe that this standardization is very important for us, too, so that our high-speed interface will be diffused. At the same time, it is also important to develop a strategy for the future success of the product by determining what to be made open and what should be kept closed.

Koide:The world is growing more complex, and the COVID-19 pandemic is causing more uncertainties. Against this backdrop, there are serious discussions in progress about digitizing road systems, realizing zero-emission vehicles, and so on. The mobility industry is now experiencing a major social paradigm shift. At times like these, what we have for solidarity is order and rules to attain a better world. It is very important to understand these order and rules without prejudice, and to do this, we must engage with the world outside our boundaries, observing and understanding the world from their point of view. I believe that the activities with the mobility industry, including the initiative for developing the international standards, are valuable for me in this sense. For I am engaged in activities for the mobility industry, providing society with safety and security should be my priority. I will therefore continue my best efforts in this standardization initiative while also contributing to the business growth of our company.

Takahashi:For me, it will be making appropriate rules. There is a well-known episode about the washing machines. In 2001, Singapore suspended importing Japanese top-loading washing machines with a spinning drum. The reason for this was that these products did not comply with the international standards. They surely complied with the Japanese industrial standards, but not the international standards, which were based on IEC standards for front-loading single-drum machines popular in Europe and America. Rules have the power to control. As a chair, I would like to pursue making rules that are appropriate and that do not work against SSS Group.
From a more specific viewpoint, there is the issue concerning image sensors. They are increasingly sophisticated that captured image data can be edited easily, boosting the added value of the sensors. However, there was a problematic incident. When a major earthquake hit Kumamoto, someone uploaded on social media a fake video footage of a lion set loose from the local zoo, which many people believed. Security will be important about camera information in the future, and it is necessary to be able to verify the authenticity of images. I hope that new standards will be established to help prevent fake images such as this from being circulated.

Akahide:Joining the SDO has made me realize that everyone has high hopes for SSS Group. My next step will be dedicated to the standardization of our technology and, also as a vice leader of the Global Standardization Advancement Committee, I should be making contributions to the machine vision sector.


The interview does not provide any technical information about SLVS-EC and how it differs from the MIPI M-PHY standard.

Full interview available here:

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