Wednesday, October 01, 2014

A Closer Look on iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Cameras

Chipworks publishes a more detailed report on iPhone 6 and 6 Plus cameras, both front and rear. All cameras have stacked sensors made by Sony. The front FaceTime camera has 2.2um pixels (up from 1.75um in iPhone 5s) and features an interesting CFA pattern:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ON Semi Image Sensor Catalog

ON Semi publishes a catalog of its image sensor products combining Aptina, Truesense and Fillfactory sensors in a single document - an impressive list.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Machine Vision Sensor Trends

IMV Europe publishes its Vision Yearbook 2014/15 with many interesting articles (pdf version). "Taking the pulse of the industry" is a collection of short summaries on industry trends from various companies. Few quotes:

Henning Tiarks, head of product management at Basler:

"The year 2015 will be an exciting one for modern cameras and camera technology again! ...It will be the first time the whole range of standard resolutions, from VGA to five megapixels and above, is expected to be covered by CMOS technology. CMOS will therefore become relevant for all existing and new applications in machine vision, as well as in applications outside the factory floor such as medical or intelligent traffic systems."

Guy Pas, VP worldwide for instruments sales at FLIR Systems:

"For many years Flir Systems has made efforts to make thermal cameras more affordable and accessible. This is a trend that will continue in 2015. Because of this increased affordability, it will be possible to deploy multiple cameras for a variety of applications and more customers will be able to benefit from the economies of scale."

Lou Hermans, COO at CMOSIS:

"The demand for very high-resolution area image sensors for machine vision applications is expected to continue to grow. This growth is mainly fueled by the expanding need for inspection of LCD panels used in smart phones, tablets and TVs. These screens are not only becoming bigger, but also the resolution is continuously increasing. This combination is at the basis of the demand for 50+ megapixel resolution inspection cameras and image sensors.

Frame rate requirements are in the 10 frames per second range – out of reach of most CCD-based camera solutions. Although most camera users and producers would prefer global shutter based CMOS solutions, a fair amount of these applications can also be realized with rolling shutter type pixel-based image sensors. ...The realisation of smaller, high-performance global shutter pixels will remain a challenge. It implies that image sensor manufacturers have to migrate to more advanced and more expensive CIS process technologies.

I also expect a growing demand for image sensors optimized for wavelengths outside the visible spectrum, more in particular for the capture of UV and NIR images. UV imaging is mainly driven by the needs of the semiconductor industry whereas NIR imaging is by non-obtrusive machine vision applications. I expect that the demand for UV sensitive imagers will accelerate the development of backside-thinned and illuminated CMOS image sensors in industrial and professional applications. Although backside illuminated imagers are now the standard in mobile phone camera applications, they are still the exception in machine vision area. The larger pixels of machine vision imagers do not benefit much in terms of QE increase in the visible when using backside illumination. The limited performance increase cannot justify the significantly higher price. For UV however, the QE increase is significant and customers are willing to pay the higher price.

The introduction of backside illuminated devices in industrial cameras is also delayed because few foundries are ready to support backside thinning and processing for such low-volume applications. For the same reasons, I do not expect to see so-called stacked backside illuminated CMOS image sensor technology to be applied shortly in dedicated machine vision image sensors.
"

Nicholas James, imaging product line manager at Edmund Optics:

"In the past year imaging and automation customers have been adopting larger, higher resolution sensors. One-inch format sensors have become more readily available, and the machine vision industry is moving toward four and six-megapixel resolution versions of these larger sensors. The market will continue to push upward toward the nine- and 12-megapixel options – and even higher as technology evolves."

Dale Deering, senior program manager at Teledyne Dalsa:

"One of the most significant trends in imaging today is the continued evolution of CMOS image sensors as the technology of choice for general machine vision applications. A complementary trend is the reduction in the cost of processing image data within the camera – the price of FPGAs, microprocessors and memory continues to drop, while speed and capability continue to increase."

Terry Arden, CEO of LMI Technologies:

"For LMI, we have identified two major segments of growth for 3D sensing technology. The first is the 3D scanning market where 3D scanners are used to build real world models of objects. The second segment is the 3D inspection market where 3D smart sensors are used to scan, measure, and pass or fail parts in an assembly process within a factory."

Frank Grube, president and CEO of Allied Vision Technologies:

"One emerging market segment on the cusp of a major change due to the introduction of machine vision is the transportation industry, an industry which has long suffered from an inability to collect quantifiably accurate infrastructure level information. With the introduction of MV technologies, the transportation industry could collect data multiple times per second, providing a quantity and quality of data not only cheaper than a magnetic loop, but considerably more robust than any other current sensor technology."

Michael Gibbons, director of sales and marketing at Point Grey

"New CCD and CMOS sensor technologies have also evolved in the last few years and have dramatically influenced the development of completely new types of imaging and machine vision systems. The number of global shutter CMOS sensors available in the market has increased and CCD technology, such as Sony’s new line of EXview HAD CCD II sensors, has also become more advanced, providing improved quantum efficiency, reduced smear, and increased sensitivity, including into the near infrared."

Sebastien Teysseyre, head of the marketing and solution creation team at e2v:

"as applications are moving away from the factory floor and its controlled environment, the imaging sensors are exposed to extreme and possibly harsh environmental conditions, such as fog, rain and snow. Technically, we know how to get a decent image in these conditions by using high power lasers and gated image intensified CCD cameras, but these solutions are physically large, fragile and expensive, limiting their adoption to high-end, niche market applications. It is very likely that, based on the initial results, in 2015 we’ll demonstrate that a CMOS-based system can be used instead of a gated tube intensifier, removing the barrier to entry for many applications."

e2v Announces Imaging Business Re-org

e2v announces that its imaging business has grown by 26% last year. Following the growth, e2v splits ita imaging business into two: Professional Imaging and Space Imaging.

The Professional Imaging business, led by Francois Thouret, and now incorporating the newly acquired AnaFocus CMOS business, will focus on commercial imaging products and services, including machine vision, medical imaging, science and thermal imaging markets. Francois Thouret says "The acquisition of AnaFocus is a key milestone on our journey to grow our business. The acquisition strengthens our position and market share by extending our value proposition for customer specific CMOS image sensors into high-growth market segments."

The Space Imaging business, led by Marc Saunders, will further develop e2v’s relationships with global space agencies, including ESA, NASA, JAXA, Airbus Defence and Space, Thales Alenia Space and Ball Aerospace. e2v’s Space Imaging business has already seen over 70 new jobs created in the past year (following a £3.8m Regional Growth Fund grant). Marc Saunders comments: "The changes we are making, with the creation of more agile customer-focused business areas, will put us in the best possible position to accelerate growth."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Apple Proposes Flexible Pixel Summing

Apple patent application US20140263951 "Image sensor with flexible pixel summing" by Xiaofeng Fan proposes a multiple pixel sharing with charge summing on floating diffusion:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fast Image Sensor Simulator

Ecole Centrale de Lyon publishes a 2014 PhD Thesis by Zhenfu Feng "Fast Scalable and Variability Aware CMOS Image Sensor Simulation Methodology" devoted to a fast LUT-based image sensor simulator built in Cadence environment:


The simulator was used to explore Monte-Carlo pixel variability, starting from classical 3T pixel to quite exotic structures, like carbon nanotube transistor-based pixel.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Omnivision Reveals Global Shutter CameraCubeChip

PR Newswire: OmniVision launches the OVM6211 CameraCubeChip, a complete global shutter camera in the industry's smallest form factor. The OVM6211 is aimed to a number of consumer applications, including machine and computer vision ones such as gesture recognition, eye tracking and motion detection.

Built on 3um B&W OmniPixel3-GS pixel, the OVM6211 has 400 x 400 pixel resolution and speed of 120fps. The OVM6211 also features a unique ultra-low power mode, which allows it to be used in an "always aware" mode with minimum power consumption.

The OVM6211 CameraCubeChip will be available in two packages. The OVM6211-RADA, intended for human interface systems such as eye tracking, will have a narrow field of view (FOV) at approximately 50 degrees. The OVM6211-RAHA, intended for applications including gesture recognition and wearable devices, will have a FOV wider than 90 degrees. The OVM6211 is currently sampling and is expected to enter volume production in Q4 2014.

"The value that the OVM6211 brings to consumer electronics extends far beyond the machine and computer vision functionalities that it enables," said Aaron Chiang, director of CameraCubeChip marketing at OmniVision. "As a monolithic camera solution with x and y dimensions that are each less than 3.5 mm, the OVM6211 can easily be built into narrow-bezel devices. In addition, the CameraCubeChip allows for the use of standard surface-mount assembly processes, which can reduce both production cost and time-to-market for manufacturers."

DynaOptics Promises More Compact Zoom Lens

IEEE Spectrum: Singapore-based DynaOptics "says its technology will allow mobile device manufacturers to offer cameras with optical zoom without making the phone thicker or requiring the zoom lens to protrude. The company says its secret is its lenses: they are asymmetrical, so a sideways movement can change the perspective from near to far." DynaOptics has raised $2M to date, and is looking for more. The company expects to have engineering samples available for mobile device makers in Q1 2015, and will be ready to start mass production by late 2015.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Report from Samsung Image Sensor Forum in China

Samsung Tomorrow publishes a report from the company's Image Sensor Forum in China, held in Shenzhen on Sept. 22, 2014. "Samsung has proved its on-going leadership in mobile image sensor innovation by developing and commercializing ISOCELL for the first time in the industry last year," said Kyushik Hong, VP and Head of S.LSI Marketing at Samsung Electronics. "With the first annual Samsung Image Sensor Forum 2014, Samsung will strengthen its communication and lead the Chinese image sensor market."

Over 300 participants from the imaging industry, including smartphone manufacturers and camera module companies, attended the forum. Samsung exhibited its recent technologies including:
  • Pixel miniaturization ISOCELL technology, ultimately enabling imagers with resolutions higher than 20MP
  • PDAF(Phase Detection Auto Focus)
  • Global Shutter technology

Imaging Without Limits at SEMICON Europa 2014

SEMICON Europa 2014 to be held in Grenoble, France on Oct. 7-10, 2014 hosts a 2-day conference "Imaging without limits" (Oct. 7-8). Speakers come from a wide range of companies:


The conference agenda:

Session 1: Imaging Application Overviews

Keynote: From pervasive sensing to operational efficiency a path towards internet of everything
Pascal Brosset, Sr VP Innovation, Schneider Electric Industries

Imaging and Telcommunications
Rahul Swaminathan, Senior Expert, Telekom Innovation Laboratories

Driving solutions - intelligent sensor systems
Berthold Hellenthal, Robust Design, Semiconductor Strategy, Audi

Imaging in ophthalmology: From eye astronomy to artificial retina for visual restoration in blind patients
Serge Picaud, Directeur de recherche, Institut de la vision

2013 - 2018 Markets & Applications for CMOS Image Sensors
Frédéric Breussin, Business Unit Manager MEMS & Sensors, Yole Developpement

Session 2: Imaging Technology Overviews

Keynote: CMOS Image Sensors: Now and Future
Eric R. Fossum, Professor, Dartmouth

French infrared technologies offering competitive edges to imaging sensors business
David Billon-Lanfrey, CTO, Sofradir

What's aside of Megapixel race: Imager & Photonics Process Development for Mass Production
Krysten Rochereau, Img div. / CMOS & CIS process manager, STMicroelectronics

Evolution of Design and Manufacturing of optical modules for mobile phone.
Jean Pierre Lusinchi, CTO AOEther, Asia Optical Ether

The Benefits of GPU Compute on ARM Mali GPUs
Tim Hartley, Staff Engineer, ARM

Wavelens - Shaped for Sharpness
Arnaud Pouydebasque, Co-Founder and Product Development VP, Wavelens

Specialized Design House for High Performances CMOS Image Sensors
Philippe Rommevaux, CEO & President, Pixalys

Imaging applications based on organic materials
Alain Jutant, President & CEO, Nikkoia

MultiX - multi energy spectrometric X-ray detectors for various applications
Patrick Radisson, Co-Founder & CTO, MultiXDetection

Session 3: Consumer

Wafer-level technologies for imaging and sensing applications in mobile devices
Markus Rossi, Chief Innovation Officer, Heptagon Advanced MicroOptics

Multi aperture camera module with 720p-resolution using microoptics
Andreas Brückner, Senior Scientist, Fraunhofer IOF

CMOS-based innovations for specialty imaging industries to consumer applications
Maarten Willems, Business Director - Smart Systems, IMEC

Imaging for companion humanoid robots
Rodolphe Gelin, Research Director, Aldebaran Robotics

Spectral filtering on CMOS Image Sensors with metal dielectric multilayers
Laurent Frey, senior research scientist, CEA LETI MINATEC

Session 4: Automotive

Automotive Camera Systems - Photons to Ethernet
Tarek Lule, Camera System Engineer, STMicroelectronics

New Developments on CMOS Logarithmic Image Sensor
Yang Ni, CTO, New Imaging Technologies

High Performance Global Shutter Image Sensors - Design and Applications
Guy Meynants, CTO, CMOSIS nv

All-glass wafer-level lens manufacturing technology for industrial imaging applications
Palle Geltzer Dinesen, Technical Strategy Director, Imaging, AAC Technologies

Custom image sensors for high performance application
Benoit Dupont, chief designer, Caeleste

Session 5: Industrial & Professional

Multisensor Camera Architectures for Security and Operational Applications
David Dorn, Applied Technologies Manager, Schneider Electric

High speed line and area image sensor for industrial and medical applications
Bernhard Schaffer, Senior R&D Engineer, CSEM S.A.

Imaging Devices in Space
Roland Meynart, Head of EO instrument pre-development, European Space Agency

Herodion Architecture for Synchronized Multi-camera Capture and Analysis
Constantin Papadas, CEO, isd

Image sensors in organic and plastic electronics for Industry 4.0 and Internet-Of-Things
Laurent Jamet, Co-Founder, Director Business Development, ISORG

Session 6: Medical

From Computer Assisted Medical Interventions to micro-nano implanted medical robots
Philippe Cinquin, Director, UJF / CNRS / CHU Grenoble

Development of Silicon Photomultipliers at FBK for nuclear medicine applications.
Claudio Piemonte, Chief Scientist, Fondazione Bruno Kessler

Xray & high energy imaging : applied technologies oriented perspective
Jean Roux, Business Developper Sales&Marketing, Hamamatsu Photonics France

Miniaturization trends in medical imaging enabled by full wafer level integration if micro camera modules
Martin Waeny, CEO, AWAIBA CMOS IMAGE SENSORS

Fully integrated CMOS THz Imaging Solutions
Andreia Cathelin, Senior Member of Technical Staff, STMicroelectronics