Friday, July 01, 2016

Mobileye, BMW, and Intel Join Forces on Driverless Car

Reuters, EETimes: BMW, Intel, and Mobileye announce an alliance to develop autonomous driving technology that could put Level 5 autonomous driving cars on the road by around 2021. The new autonomous driving platform is said to be open for others to join. The platform is supposed to be a part of the international standard that defines sensors to be used in the system, among many other things.

Mobileye says it will put at least 100 employees working on this project, out of its current headcount of 700. Intel says it will put several hundreds people and several hundred million dollars on this project. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said that he's confident that they can achieve their autonomous driving target in 5 years.

RCA Story of Television

Jeff Quitney found a 1956 movie "The Story of Television" featuring RCA's David Sarnoff and Vladimir Zwyorikin talking about the early iconoscope and vidicon tubes. Initially, Vladimir Zwyorikin asked for $100,000 budget to develop the television. In the end, it costed RCA $50M to develop B&W TV and then another $70M to make a color version:

There is also an earlier version of this video with somewhat lower quality of video and sound.

Terapixel Image Processing

While most of the industry is yet to reach Gigapixel resolutions, MIT explores image processing approaches for the next step - Terapixel images. MsC thesis "Terapixel Image Processing and Simulation with Distributed Halide" by Tyler Denniston proposes distributed multi-core processing on NERSC Cori supercomputer to do that. The results are not very encouraging so far: no matter how many processing nodes are used, the camera ISP pipeline does not speed up enough:

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Pinned Photodiode Fundamentals

Delft University publishes a very nice PhD Thesis "Fundamental Characteristics of a Pinned Photodiode CMOS Pixel" by Yang Xu. Other than a lot of basic stuff on PPD principles and characterization, the thesis discusses some of the more advanced things, like optimizations for image lag and charge transfer speed:

NIT Announces Gated SWIR Sensor

New Imaging Technologies' latest logarithmic InGaAs offers short gating mode in QVGA and VGA resolution. The new version of its WiDy SWIR cameras allows low exposure time (down to 200ns) and low jitter (10ns) with minimum trigger delay of 200ns for pulsed illumination. The new cameras have 3 in-pixel memories for true CDS or in VGA - current highest resolution on the market - they come with dedicated software offering programmable trigger delay with customizable very short steps for trigger in or out synchronization.

Measured Shutter Efficiency with a phase shifted 4ns laser pulse

Getting Started with ST ToF Ranging and Gesture Sensor

ST releases its ToF development board in a form of Arduino Uno shield:

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Assorted News

1. Open source Sensors Journal publishes a paper on 75ps gated pixel "A 75-ps Gated CMOS Image Sensor with Low Parasitic Light Sensitivity" by Fan Zhang and Hanben Niu, Shenzhen University, China. Their pixel is mostly circuit-based:

2. Another paper "Quantum Random Number Generation Using a Quanta Image Sensor" by Emna Amri, Yacine Felk, Damien Stucki, Jiaju Ma, and Eric R. Fossum from ID Quantique, Switzerland and Dartmouth College, USA, presents an improvement on the image sensor based random number generators:

3. Guillaume Renault publishes a Youtube video presentation of Invisage's Quantum Film sensor.

Sony Kumamoto Fab to Fully Recover in August

Sony Corporate Strategy presentation has a slide on Kumamoto image sensor fab saying that it's expected to reach its "full utilization on a wafer input basis around the end of August":

Sony Reduces Image Sensor Sales and Margins Forecast

Sony President and CEO, Kazuo Hirai, provides an update on the progress of its mid-range corporate plan covering the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 ("FY2015") through the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018 ("FY2017"). Few image sensor-related points:
  • Sony announced a significant downward revision to its full year results forecast in FY2015 due to lower than expected sales in the core image sensor business, caused in particular by slowing growth within the smartphone market.
  • The rate of profit growth in this business is expected to continue to decline through FY2017.
  • Sony plans to take an approach to management that prioritizes speed of response to changes in the market environment, and focuses on Sony's areas of strength.
  • At the same time, in terms of image sensors for mobile products, while the smartphone market itself is slowing, the shift to dual-lens cameras and the requirement for higher pixel density is expected to lead to increased demand in the future. With its technological expertise in these areas, these could be favorable market trends for Sony. By taking advantage of these shifts in the business landscape and also by continuing its existing efforts to expand sales volume, Sony is aiming to revitalize the profitability of this business from the second half of FY2016 and into FY2017.
  • From a mid-to-long-term perspective, Sony continues to expect significant future growth for the image sensor-business. This business accordingly continues to be positioned as a growth driver.
  • In terms of new image sensor applications, Sony sees potential growth in surveillance cameras, as well as in factory automation, IoT (Internet of Things) including drones, and automotive applications. While it is expected to be some time before Sony's image sensor business for automotive applications is fully established, it is an area where Sony anticipates growth and is investing in R&D aggressively.

Also today, Sony has held its "Sony IR Day 2016." The semiconductors business presentation by Terushi Shimizu revises down the previous forecasts of sales and margins:

Other slides about image sensors:

Mobileye Autonomous Driving Lecture

Mobileye's CTO Amnon Shashua delivers a keynote on Autonomous Driving, Computer Vision and Machine Learning at CVPR 2016:

Thanks to DS for the link!