Archives for March 2017

Sony to Introduce 100MP and 150MP Medium Format BSI Sensors in 2018

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ArmDevices interviews Sony representative on large format 100MP sensor in PhaseOne camera. Sony roadmap in the video promises 100MP and 150MP medium format BSI sensors to be introduced in 2018:




Update: As Reddit user sissipaska noted, the 150MP MF roadmap is available on the official Sony site.

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Fujifilm XT20 review

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The Fujifilm XT20 is a mid-range mirrorless camera that takes the 24 Megapixel sensor, image processor and AF of the XT2, and complements them with a touchscreen and popup flash. So you get the quality of the XT2 in a smaller and more affordable body - find out if it's for you in my in-depth review!…

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Entropix Pitches Dual Cameras for Security Applications

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Entropix proposes dual cameras for security and surveillance applications:


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LiFi Basics and Recent Progress

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SPIE publishes a video by Harald Haas of University of Edinburgh and pureLiFi Ltd. explaining LiFi basics and the recent progress:

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Qualcomm Glance Camera Module

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MIT Technology Review: Qualcomm is working on Glance camera module that combines image sensor and a low-power processor that runs computer-vision algorithms. On a smartphone, Glance could make new security features practical, says Jeff Henckels, Qualcomm’s director of product management and business development. He says that manufacturers are interested in using iris scans to identify people and unlock phones—but a device’s camera can’t be constantly active without draining the battery. A Glance sensor consumes about 2mW of power, as opposed to hundreds of milliwatts for a typical smartphone camera module. Its resolution of 320 x 240 pixels isn’t high enough to handle tasks like facial recognition or to map the image of an individual’s iris, but it can recognize when a person is facing a phone’s screen and then activate the device’s front-facing camera to scan his or her iris.

Henckels says engineering samples of Glance hardware and a software development kit are in the hands of several device makers, and that smartphone vendors are testing the iris-scan capabilities. He declined to say when products featuring the technology would appear, or when Qualcomm would turn it into a commercial product.

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Himax Announces UltraSenseIR Sensor

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GlobeNewsWire: In line with its new focus on computer vision applications, Himax announces the UltraSenseIR HM1062 HD sensor delivering 44% NIR QE for a wide range of eye-safe, computer vision applications for compact devices such as front facing cameras for smartphones, notebooks, wearable devices, drones and other embedded devices. The company does not specify the wavelength at which the high QE has been measured.

Excellent NIR sensitivity with low noise performance is critical for high quality image data acquisition and allows computer vision systems to process and analyze the image data more effectively, and even capture data that would have been undetectable with a lower sensitivity sensor,” said Amit Mittra, CTO of Himax Imaging. “In an active light system, laser diodes are commonly used to project patterns that are superimposed on to the scene and decoded by the computer vision algorithms. The Himax UltraSenseIR™ NIR sensitivity allows for the reduction of the laser output power which can substantially improve the eye safety of the device.

Our growing UltraSenseIR™ product line has received positive feedback from our partners due to advancements in system performance and also opportunities to reduce system cost, power and mechanical dimensions,” said Jordan Wu, CEO of Himax Technologies. “As many industries and applications place more sensing elements and intelligence into smaller devices, the HM1062 compact 1/6.5-inch optical format, small package size and low external component requirement is ideal for a wide variety of embedded computer vision devices on the applications of handsets, tablets, laptops, other consumer electronics, automobiles, surveillance and Internet of Things.

The HM1062 operates up to 60 fps in 720p HD resolution, and up to 120 fps in binning or sub-sampling mode over MIPI CSI2. The HM1062 is currently sampling and scheduled for mass production by the second quarter of 2017.

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Yet Another Mobileye Lecture

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Mobileye CTO & Chairman Amnon Shashua delivers a keynote at Bosch ConnectedWorld Conference 2017:

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Bangkok bites: the best streetfood in Thailand!

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Of all the countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand has a special place in my heart. It was the first country I'd visited in the region, introducing me to travel which felt truly exotic. Twenty years later I returned, determined to find the best streetfood in Bangkok. Here's my guide to finding it, photographing it and of course eating it!…

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Teledyne Completes Acquisition of e2v

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Teledyne and e2v jointly announce the successful completion of the acquisition by Teledyne of e2v. The aggregate value for the transaction was approximately £627M (or approximately $789M) taking into account e2v stock options and net debt as of September 2016. For the year ended March 31, 2016, e2v had sales of approximately £236M. Excluding transaction-related expenses, Teledyne management expects the transaction to be accretive to earnings per share.

Every business within e2v is highly complementary to Teledyne and will contribute to our balanced portfolio of highly engineered products. From industrial machine vision to space-based imaging... our respective capabilities and engineering-centric cultures are truly a great fit,” said Robert Mehrabian, Chairman, President and CEO of Teledyne. “We are proud to continue e2v’s 70-year legacy of innovation and specialized high technology products. In addition, e2v adds greater critical mass and technical resources to Teledyne in key locations, including the United Kingdom; Grenoble, France; and Seville, Spain.

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Yole on Intel Acquisition of Mobileye

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Yole publishes its analysis of Intel-Mobileye deal, mostly saying that both companies need each other to compete on the heated autonomous driving would-be market. Yole predicts the 2020-s will be the decade of sensing:


The autonomous vehicles take-off is expected in 5-10 years from now:


And some market data:

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Panasonic Lumix GH5 review

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The Lumix GH5 is Panasonic's flagship camera, aimed at enthusiasts and video pros. It features a 20 Megapixel sensor that's stabilized in the body, there's twin SD slots, quicker focusing, 9fps bursts, Wifi and Bluetooth. But it's the video that really impresses: unlimited 4k up to 60p with internal recording. Check out my in-depth Lumix GH5 review!…

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Nikkei: Panasonic Possibly Divests from TPSCo

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Nikkei: Panasonic prepares a restructuring plan to improve its financial performance. As a part of the plan, Panasonic contemplates selling its share in TowerJazz-Panasonic JV: "In the chip business, the company is weighing unloading shares in a joint venture with an Israeli enterprise."

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ToF Imaging Book

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It came to my attention that CRC Press released "High Performance CMOS Range Imaging: Device Technology and Systems Considerations" by Andreas Suss in 2016. The book appears to be a version of Andreas Suss 2014 PhD Thesis, freely available on Duisburg University site.

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Mobileye Lecture at MIT

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MIT Center for Brains, Minds and Machines publishes a lecture "The Convergence of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Towards Enabling Autonomous Driving" by Amnon Shashua, Mobileye CTO and Chairman, that has been live streamed yesterday. The lecture also has a nice Q&A session starting 0:51:00 time, the camera requirements questions start at 1:08:34:



Thanks to DS for the link!

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Magna Forecasts Automotive Camera Market to Reach $10B in 2020

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AutomotiveNews: Magna VP Joel Gibson said the total market value for camera-based driver assistance systems is “growing very quickly” and he expects it to be worth about $10b per year by 2020. “It’s a very large growth area for Magna,” he said. Magna expects its car camera business to grow to $1B from the current $450M per year.

On another automotive news, AutoSens publishes a tutorial "What is LiDAR and why is it so important to driverless cars?" explaining the LiDAR basics and its strengths and weaknesses.

In yet another automotive news, NYTimes reports a use case for an in-car camera: "In France, Valeo, another supplier of automotive technology, is developing an infrared camera system that will monitor children in the rear seat as well as the driver’s shoulder, neck and head movements, looking for deviations from the norm.

Checking body temperature and even how the driver is dressed, the system will also be able to customize the interior temperature for each driver, said Guillaume Devauchelle, the company’s innovation director.
"

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Inside ToF Proximity Sensor of iPhone 7 Plus

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Systemplus Consulting publishes reverse engineering report of ST SPAD-based proximity sensor inside Apple iPhone 7 Plus. "The custom Apple device measures 2.80 mm x 2.40 mm, half the size of the rest of STMicroelectronics’s portfolio." VCSEL is integrated on top of the SPAD sensor chip:

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ST SPAD Presentation

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ST kindly permitted me to publish few slides from Bruce Rae presentation "Fully industrialised Foundry SPAD in an optimised 130nm CMOS imaging technology" at Image Sensors Europe in London, UK, on March 15, 2017:

Update: ST asked me to add a following statement:

"STM adds SPADs to its CIS foundry business in addition to its advanced CIS processes and pixels. STM is now enriching its CIS foundry offer with access to its 130nm CMOS SPAD technology. The fully industrialized SPAD pixel and associated IPs, shipped in more than 250 Million of STM’s FlightSenseTM technology based products, is now available to STM customers under a foundry business model. Customers can now benefit from more than 10 years of R&D, as well as a proven, reliable, high volume capable supply chain. Regular MPW shuttles are planned, starting in Sept 2017."

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Taiwan Distributors Report High CIS Demand

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Digitimes: Taiwan-based Coasia Microelectronics and Sunnic Technology & Merchandise, report 17.7% and 18% YoY sales growth, according to industry sources. Coasia distributes CMOS sensors mainly for Samsung, while Sunnic sells Sony's CMOS sensors.

The growth in demand in 2017 has been attributed to a growing number of new smartphones including entry-level and mid-range models that will feature a dual-lens setup, said Digitimes sources.

Indeed, even $65 phones such as DooGee Shoot 2 feature dual 5MP rear camera these days:

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Sigma 12-24mm f4 Art review

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The new Sigma Art AF 12-24/4.0 DG HSM is a worthy successor to Sigma’s AF 12-24mm 4.5-5.6 II DG HSM model from 2011. Optical performance is very good and other aspects of the lens are also improved: The focal ratio is now a constant f4.0, AF is faster, and you get compatibility with Sigma’s USB dock to fine tune…

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EETimes on ST SPAD Imager in iPhone 8

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EETimes quotes Yole's analyst Pierre Cambou findings that ST SPAD imager might appear in the oncoming Apple iPhone 8. Few quotes:

"Yole’s educated guess is that ST is bringing a brand new 3D (array) imager to Apple iPhone 8 — an innovation that will alter the phone’s user interface.

Here’s a fact: As many as 10 Apple engineers have been working on imaging in Grenoble over the last few years. Their presence is open knowledge among locals, according to Cambou. The local newspaper reported last summer that Apple signed a lease with the city of Grenoble to open a research and development center there. The 800-square-meter facility will reportedly focus on imaging components and employ about thirty engineers.

Cambou suspects that ST could be using Silicon on insulator (SOI)-based wafers for the new SPAD 3D imagers. He said, “This is the way people have been doing BSI in the Grésivaudan valley (in Crolles…) for a long time.

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Rockchip Compares its ISP with Apple

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Embedded Vision publishes Rockchip article comparing its AP image processing engine with one from Apple:

"The RK1608 utilizes the CEVA-XM4 DSP core to perform frame-based processing, rather than line-based as in ISP. Because it is specifically designed for image processing, it can perform much faster than a standard AP. It includes features like multi frame de-noise, zig-zag HDR for preview and capture, HDR processing of multi-exposed image, depth map generation, super resolution and pseudo optical zoom. The vision coprocessor’s function is not dependent on the ISP, so it can be adapted to any platform.

One phone already available on the market that uses the RK1608 for enhanced photography, is the ASUS ZenFone 3 Zoom smartphone, launched earlier this year at CES 2017. If there was ever a phone that truly threatened DSLRs, this is it. This device was designed to be a camera just as much as it was designed to be a phone. The aperture, pixel size and sensor are among the largest in the industry at f/1.7, 1.4µm and 1/2.55”, respectively. It uses new SuperPixel camera technology for clearer images at night or in low-light environments and offers 2.5-times greater light sensitivity than the Apple iPhone 7 Plus.
"

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e2v Whitepaper on CCD QE in the Soft X-Ray Range

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e2v publishes a nice paper explaining CCD properties in soft X-Ray band. Few quotes:


"On average, 3.6 eV is required for each free signal electron emitted from the silicon atom after absorption of an X-ray photon [20], with variance as per the Fano factor. The complete absorption of a 500 eV X-ray photon produces on average approximately (500 / 3.6) = 139 signal electrons, but a large number of steps are involved in this absorption."

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AND not OR: CCD & CMOS Technologies for Industrial Markets

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ON Semi publishes Michael DeLuca talk at Vision Show held in Stuttgart, Germany, in Nov. 2016:

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EETimes Visits Chronocam

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EETimes publishes an article on its visit of Chronocam. Few quotes:

"Chronocam’s sensor technology is designed to acquire data that’s simplified and tailored for machines to use. This dramatically reduced data load should allow cars to make almost real-time decisions.

Even the slightest hint of a market revolution is exciting to any inventor of a new technology. This isn’t a thrill, however, that stirs the incumbents who supply conventional image sensors.

With that resistance in place, it it’s tough to convincing others to consider a path they’ve never taken before. Talking them into embracing it, joining the revolution and building “an eco-system” is not a job for the fainthearted. Chronocam’s CEO Verre, however, is undeterred.

He cited three key advantages Chronocam’s event-driven sensor can provide. “We generate much less data, we enable faster reaction time, and we operate at a much wider dynamic range,” he explained.

Chronocam’s market positioning, however, has shifted significantly in one respect. Chronocam now believes, in entering the ADAS/autonomous car market, it doesn’t need to chart a collision course with an entire community of incumbent CMOS image sensor suppliers. Different from what we heard from the startup a year ago, Chronocam today is pitching its technology as one of the several different sensors to be added to ADAS/autonomous cars for safety.
"

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EMCCD Generations

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Raptor Photonics publishes a whitepaper explaining EMCCD generations differences. For some reason, ON Semi's EMCCD is not in the table, although the whitepaper is relatively new, dated by 2016/11:

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Canon EOS M5 review

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Canon's EOS M5 is a mid-range mirrorless featuring a 24 Megapixel APSC sensor, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, built-in OLED electronic viewfinder and a tilting 3.2in touchscreen. It'll shoot at 7fps with CAF, film 1080 60p video, and offers an always-on low-power Bluetooth link. Is it the mirrorless for you? Find out in Gordon's review.…

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Tamron TC-X14 / TC-X20 teleconverter review

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With their second generation telephoto zooms Tamron also offers two new 1.4x and 2x teleconverters (dubbed TC-X14 and TC-X20) which are specifically designed to work with the SP 70-200/2.8 VC G2 and the SP 150-600/5.0-6.3 VC G2. I had the chance to extensively test the Tamron SP 70-200/2.8 VC G2 (model A025) with the TC-X14 and…

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In Camera book – perfect photos out-of-camera

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In Camera is a new hardback photography book by Cameralabs Editor, Gordon Laing. It celebrates the art of JPEG photography with 100 of his travel images, all presented out-of-camera. No filter, no Photoshop, just pure photography! Each photo is accompanied by behind the scenes details, techniques and settings. Everything you need to shoot confidently in-camera!…

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Tamron 70-200mm f2.8 VC G2 review

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Tamron's SP 70-200mm f2.8 Di VC USD G2 is a 2.9x telephoto full-frame zoom available in Canon and Nikon DSLR mounts. It's the second generation (A025) model with closer focusing, improved AF and stabilisation, and compatibility with Tamron's USB "TAP-in" console. In his review-in-progress, Thomas finds out if it's worth spending the extra.…

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