Archives for August 2018

Apple vs Samsung in ALS and Proximity Sensors

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SystemPlus Consulting compares ambient light sensors (ALS) and proximity sensors design in several generations of Apple and Samsung smartphones: Samsung Galaxy S7, S8, and S9 and Apple iPhone 7, 8, and X:

"Samsung has chosen to combine the two sensors in a single component, whereas Apple made the choice to keep them separate. Over the years, Samsung has improved the performance without changing its packaging footprint. Apple has kept the same supplier, STMicroelectronics, for its proximity sensor. However it has added features to each new generation, as in the latest the iPhone X, where the proximity sensor is combined with a flood illuminator. In this new iPhone the ambient light sensor is still supplied by ams, but has a multi-spectral feature."

Samsung Galaxy S9 combined proximity/ALS sensor
Apple iPhoe X multi-spectral ALS

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e2v Announces Optimized Sensor for High-Speed Scanning and Barcode Reading

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Teledyne e2v announces Snappy 2MP image sensor for barcode reading and other 2D scanning applications. The sensor uniquely combines full HD resolution, a 2.8μm low-noise global shutter and advanced features for fast and economic decoding, all within a small optical format. From pixel performance, to integrated real-time features, every aspect of the Snappy sensor has been optimised to enable fast and accurate scanning of 1D and 2D barcodes.

Gareth Powell, Marketing Manager at Teledyne e2v, said, “Snappy 2MP is the first in a range of innovative sensors specifically aimed at barcode reading and is designed to empower handheld, mobile or fixed readers and automatic identification cameras with better than ever performance. The new sensors feature our patented Fast-Exposure mode, which ensures that the first image frame is correctly exposed to enable the fastest possible identification and decoding by the image processing system, even in diverse or rapidly changing light conditions.


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Toyota and Omnivision Interviews

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

Image Sensors America conference publishes an interview with Roger Melen, Senior Advisor, Toyota InfoTechology Center. One interesting quote:

Q: What do you see as the top collective challenges for those working on image sensors for automotive applications?

A: I think in very high-resolution sensors dynamic range and frame rate performance are slowly improving but much more performance may be required by future vehicles.

Omnivision Senior Director, Eiichi Funatsu, is to deliver presentation "Super High Sensitivity CMOS Image Sensors Technologies." His Q&A session quotes:

"...the cameras should have even better vision than human eyes, should be always working, with very low power, and with some intelligence. CMOS Image Sensor technology evolution should contribute to the realization of these features and make the human life more affluent and convenient.

Our Super High Sensitivity CMOS Image Sensor is a good milestone in the process of the evolution.
"

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LG Innotek to Enter Thermal Camera Module Business

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PRNewswire: LG Innotek is entering the thermal imaging infrared camera module business. The company is accelerating the in-house development of core technologies from sensors to module design and production process to develop thermal imaging camera modules.

LG Innotek is confident that it will be able to achieve world-class quality in the design and production of thermal imaging camera modules. This is because the structure and manufacturing process of this module is similar to those of the smartphone camera module. The company has been the number one in the global smartphone camera module market for 7 consecutive years.

Park Jong-seok, CEO of the company, said, "We will continue to release competitive thermal imaging camera modules so that they can be utilized more widely in various areas."

The company believes that improving the performance and lowering the price will expand the market rapidly as the utility value of the thermal camera has already been proven. The first goal is to expand the market from military application to non-military applications such as home appliances, automobiles, and drones. The thermal imaging camera module can be applied to ADAS as well as to autonomous driving system to improve driving safety.

LG Innotek is expanding its cooperation with domestic venture companies to secure thermal imaging sensor technology. Recently, the company started the joint development of the next generation thermal imaging sensor together with Truwin.

According to Yole Developpement, the global thermal imaging camera market is expected to grow from $3,325m in 2018 to $4,385m in 2022.

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Gesture Recognition with Lensless Sensors

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

Rambus lensless sensor partners keep working on the applications for the small and cheap sensor. MPDI paper "Hand Tracking and Gesture Recognition Using Lensless Smart Sensors" by Lizy Abraham, Andrea Urru, Niccolò Normani, Mariusz P. Wilk, Michael Walsh, and Brendan O’Flynn from Cork University, Irland,

"The Lensless Smart Sensor (LSS) developed by Rambus, Inc. is a low-power, low-cost visual sensing technology that captures information-rich optical data in a tiny form factor using a novel approach to optical sensing. The spiral gratings of LSS diffractive grating, coupled with sophisticated computational algorithms, allow point tracking down to millimeter-level accuracy. This work is focused on developing novel algorithms for the detection of multiple points and thereby enabling hand tracking and gesture recognition using the LSS. The algorithms are formulated based on geometrical and mathematical constraints around the placement of infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs) on the hand. The developed techniques dynamically adapt the recognition and orientation of the hand and associated gestures. A detailed accuracy analysis for both hand tracking and gesture classification as a function of LED positions is conducted to validate the performance of the system. Our results indicate that the technology is a promising approach, as the current state-of-the-art focuses on human motion tracking that requires highly complex and expensive systems. A wearable, low-power, low-cost system could make a significant impact in this field, as it does not require complex hardware or additional sensors on the tracked segments."

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sCMOS Sensors Comparison: BAE vs GPixel

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

PCO kindly sent me a slide from their presentation comparing sCMOS sensors from BAE (Fairchild Imaging) and GPixel. BAE manufactures its sensors at TSMC, while GPixel uses TowerJazz foundry.


Thanks to GH for the slide!

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Actlight DPD Converts Light Intensity into Delay Time

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EETimes' Junko Yoshida publishes an article about EPFL spinoff Actlight. The company offers its Dynamic Photodiode (DPD) technology for licensing by other companies. "Serguei Okhonin, Actlight's CEO, told EE Times that his company recently picked up “one of the top five semiconductor companies” as its first licensee.

Instead of using DC bias, the DPD operates at pulsed voltages: the applied voltage is switched from reverse to forward bias. This forward bias induces a large forward current after a time delay, so called triggering time, which depends on the light intensity. This way, we measure the delay time of the large forward current instead of the small photocurrent magnitude.

Because of the large output signal, ActLight claims that DPD needs no amplifier. It can be directly connected to digital circuits.

ActLight expects the first ASIC integrated with the company’s photodiode to emerge in 2019, indicating that there are two or three OEMs already taking a closer look.
"

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Isorg Corporate Video

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Isorg publishes a corporate video about the company and its products:

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Esticast 3D Camera Market Review

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

Esticast: The global 3D Camera market was valued at 1.31b in 2017, and is projected to reach $12b by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 35.5% from 2017 to 2025. In 2017, stereo vision 3D camera segment held a considerably large share of the overall market:

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Nikon Z6 review so far

Cameralabs        Go to the original article...

The Nikon Z6 is a full-frame mirrorless camera aimed at enthusiasts, featuring 24 Megapixels, built-in stabilisation, 273 embedded AF points and 12fps burst shooting. Check out my hands-on preview!…

The post Nikon Z6 review so far appeared first on Cameralabs.

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DJI Mavic 2 Pro / Zoom review

Cameralabs        Go to the original article...

The DJI Mavic 2 is a mid-range drone available in two versions with different cameras: the Zoom has a 2x optical zoom and 1/2.3in sensor, and the Pro has a fixed lens but a larger 1in sensor for a slightly higher price. Find out if these are the drones you're looking for in Adam's review!…

The post DJI Mavic 2 Pro / Zoom review appeared first on Cameralabs.

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SmartSens GS BSI Sensor

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

ECN publishes an interview with Leo Bai, CM of Artificial Intelligent BU at SmartSens "How Is Image Sensing Technology Moving Forward?". Few quotes:

"With rapid development of AI and MV technology, there will be a growing number of new applications that need CIS to get direct data for processing and analyzing. This will present much broader market opportunities for image sensors than ever before.

In order to meet the market needs, SmartSens has developed cost-effective, high-performance global shutter CIS for emerging AI and MV applications, i.e. the world's first BSI-based global shutter CMOS image sensor family (SmartGS). Because of its excellent signal-to-noise ratio, high sensitivity, and dynamics, the SmartGS image sensors are widely used in FA, code reader, intelligent sensing, and other fields.

SC031GS is the world’s first commercial-grade 300,000-pixel global shutter CMOS image sensor based on BSI pixel technology. BSI technology makes SC031GS more sensitive. Derived from high-end industrial CIS, SmartGS design technology guarantees low system noise, high-shutter efficiency, single-frame HDR, among other features. Because of these high performances, SC031GS is becoming popular in intelligent sensing (drone, robotics) and IoT industries. Designed for intelligent applications like face to vSLAM, optical flow, 2D-decoder, and gesture recognition, SC031GS’s design is fully considered about system solution. So, SC031GS is better suited for intelligent applications than other competitors.
"

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MEMS Drive CEO Interview

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Elektor publishes an interview with MEMS Drive CEO Colin Kwan. Few interesting quotes:

"Currently, OIS technology is mainly implemented in high-end phones, which is less than 20% of the cellphone market. Yet OIS technology is gradually penetrating the middle and low-end cellphone markets as people have higher requirements for photo taking.

OIS actuator technology in mobile phones has been mainly dominated by a few voice coil motor (VCM) suppliers. However, none has been able to provide all round shake compensation. No matter it is VCM shifting lens or tilting lens, the roll axis is not able to be compensated through lens movement. MEMS Drive saw this as an opportunity and came out with a MEMS OIS actuator, the world’s first five-axis (i.e., pitch, yaw, roll, x/y translation) optical image stabilization in mobile phones.

MEMS OIS is a MEMS actuator that sits underneath the image sensor. By moving the image sensor in the x/y plane in a very fast and precise way, MEMS OIS counteracts undesired vibrations that cause image blur while taking a photo. It makes fundamental changes on a camera module’s mechanical systems and breaks through the limitations of conventional VCM OIS, which works through lens movement. MEMS OIS has sub-micron accuracy and in-position compensation within 10 ms. It is ultra-low power (e.g., 50-plus times lower than traditional VCM OIS), which is extremely beneficial for mobile phones and other portable devices. MEMS OIS also has competitive advantages when applied in dual/triple cameras since it causes no magnetic interference.
"

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Magic Leap Glasses Teardown

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

iFixit teardown of Magic Leap One glasses reveals a lot of image sensing components inside:

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PCO Combines Image Intensifier with sCMOS Sensor

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pco.dicam C1 combines image intensifier with 4.2MP sCMOS sensor. The intensifier is used to implement a very short global shutter, down to few tens of ns:

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Automotive Vision Market

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

Corephotonics automotive brochure quotes Strategy Analytics forecast of ADAS sensor market:

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Nikon Z7 review so far

Cameralabs        Go to the original article...

The Nikon Z7 is a high-end full-frame mirrorless camera aimed at enthusiasts and professionals, featuring 45 Megapixels, built-in stabilisation, 493 embedded AF points and 9fps burst shooting. I went hands-on for my preview!…

The post Nikon Z7 review so far appeared first on Cameralabs.

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EI 2019 Keynotes

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

The Image Sensors and Imaging Systems conference hosted at Electronic Imaging 2019 announces 3 keynotes:
  • "How CMOS pixels moved from standard CMOS process to semiconductor process flavors even more dedicated than CCD ever was", Martin Wäny, TechnologiesMW (Switzerland)
  • "Recent trends in the image sensor technologies", Vladimir Koifman, Analog Value Ltd (Israel) and Image Sensors World
  • "Hyperspectral imaging and the IEEE P4001 standard", Chris Durell, Labsphere inc (New Hampshire)

One can note that Martin Wäny, the founder of Awaiba, has left ams in 2017 and founded a new company TechnologiesMW.

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Panasonic Lumix LX100 II review so far

Cameralabs        Go to the original article...

The Panasonic Lumix LX100 II is a high-end compact aimed at enthusiasts. It inherits the controls, viewfinder, multi-aspect ratios and 24-75mm f1.7-2.8 lens of the original Mark I but upgrades the resolution, adds a touchscreen, Bluetooth and the latest 4K Photo modes. Check out Ken's review-so-far!…

The post Panasonic Lumix LX100 II review so far appeared first on Cameralabs.

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LED Flicker Tutorial Paper

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

IE 2008 publishes a paper "LED flicker: Root cause, impact and measurement for automotive imaging applications" by Brian Deegan, Valeo Vision Systems.

"In recent years, the use of LED lighting has become widespread in the automotive environment, largely because of their high energy efficiency, reliability, and low maintenance costs. There has also been a concurrent increase in the use and complexity of automotive camera systems. To a large extent, LED lighting and automotive camera technology evolved separately and independently. As the use of both technologies has increased, it has become clear that LED lighting poses significant challenges for automotive imaging i.e. so-called "LED flicker". LED flicker is an artifact observed in digital imaging where an imaged light source appears to flicker, even though the light source appears constant to a human observer. This paper defines the root cause and manifestations of LED flicker. It defines the use cases where LED flicker occurs, and related consequences. It further defines a test methodology and metrics for evaluating an imaging systems susceptibility to LED flicker."

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Rode Podcaster review

Cameralabs        Go to the original article...

The Rode Podcaster is a high quality USB microphone optimised for spoken vocals and ideally suited for podcasts and voiceovers. With an audio and physical design that mimicks the sound of classic radio presentations, it's become a popular choice. In my review I'll compare it to the NT USB.…

The post Rode Podcaster review appeared first on Cameralabs.

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Reports: CMOS Sensors in Short Supply, Prices Rising

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

IFNews quotes Chinese sites HQEW, EEPW, UDN, that refer to Taiwan Economic Times reporting that image sensors are in short supply now. This follows the shortages of capacitors, resistors, discrete MOSFETs, lenses, AF motors, and other components in the recent months. In case of image sensors, the main reason is said to be the growing adoption of dual- and triple-camera smartphones. Sony and Omnivision are increasing their image sensor prices. The smaller smartphone manufacturers, being unable to secure Sony, Omnivision, and Samsung sensors, are shifting their orders to Pixart and Silicon Optronics (SOI) as the cheaper alternatives.

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LWIR Polarization Imaging

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

Polarization imaging starts finding some use in thermal cameras. Swedish Symposium on Image Analysis paper "A polarimetric longwave infrared imager" by Johan Eriksson, David Bergström, and Niclas Wadströmer from FOI Swedish defense research agency shows some advantages that polarization gives for thermal cameras:


Thanks to AB for the pointer!

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DB Hitek Roadmap

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

DB Hitek (former Dongbu) foundry develops SPAD and GS pixels, as shown on its recent roadmap:

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Samsung Proposes Very Low Power 12Gbps CIS Interface

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MDPI Sensors publishes "A 12-Gb/s Stacked Dual-Channel Interface for CMOS Image Sensor Systems" paper by Sang-Hoon Kim, Hoon Shin, Youngkyun Jeong, June-Hee Lee, Jaehyuk Choi, and Jung-Hoon Chun from Sungkyunkwan University and Samsung, Korea.

"We propose a dual-channel interface architecture that allocates high and low transition-density bit streams to two separate channels. The transmitter utilizes the stacked drivers with charge-recycling to reduce the power consumption. The direct current (DC)-coupled receiver front-end circuits manage the common-mode level variations and compensate for the channel loss. The tracked oversampling clock and data recovery (CDR), which realizes fast lock acquisition below 1 baud period and low logic latency, is shared by the two channels. Fabricated in a 65-nm low-power complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology, the dual-channel transceiver achieves 12-Gb/s data rate while the transmitter consumes 20.43 mW from a 1.2-V power supply."

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Intel-Mobileye AV Platform Uses 12 Cameras and 6 LiDARs

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Intel publishes a 1-pager on its autonomous vehicle platform:

"There are 12 cameras in a 360-degree configuration. Eight cameras support self-driving and four short-range cameras support near-field sensing for self-driving as well as self-parking. The camera is the highest resolution sensor (hundreds of millions of samples per second) and is the only sensor capable of detecting both shape (vehicles, pedestrians, etc.) and texture (road markings, traffic sign text, traffic light color, etc.). Advanced artificial intelligence and vision capabilities are able to build a full-sensing state from the cameras. This end-to-end capability is critical to achieve “true redundancy” in combination with other sensor types.

There are six total “sector” lidars; three in front and three in rear. Lidar sensors are useful in detecting objects by measuring reflected laser light pulses. Lidar, in combination with radar, is used by the system to provide a fully independent source of shape detection. It works in addition to the camera system. Given our camera-centric approach, lidar only needs to be used for very specific tasks, primarily long-distance ranging and road contour. Limiting the workload for lidar results in much lower cost compared to lidar-centric systems; it also provides easier manufacturing and volume at scale.
"

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Is 3D-Capable Smartphone the Next Big Thing?

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EETimes reporter Junko Yoshida publishes a 10 page-long article "Jury Still Out on 3D Sensing for Smartphones" mostly based on an interview with Pierre Cambou, Yole Developpement analyst. Few interesting quotes:

"The industry verdict on 3D sensing [inside smartphones] varies widely — from “why bother?” to “it’s the future.” While some interpret the lack of iPhone X competitors with full-blown 3D sensing technology as a lack of market interest, others disagree.

While Apple’s TrueDepth had by 2017 established the trend for 3D front-facing cameras, Yole acknowledged that the wave [for 3D sensing adoption] “has started on the conservative side in terms of volume.”

The 3D sensing argument took a positive turn when Chinese smartphone OEMs including Xioami, Oppo, and Vivo unveiled their plans for 3D sensing over the last few months. Although Cambou is sure about front-facing 3D, he remains skeptical of use cases for 3D in rear-facing cameras. Pointing out a lack of momentum for VR and AR, he explained that neither the augmented reality sales pitch nor augmented gaming are yet proven on the market.

Recent quarterly financial calls held by STMicroelectronics and ams revealed that “they are almost overly confident” that 3D sensing will go inside both the front and rear cameras of smartphones, observed Cambou.

So what percentage of smartphone cameras will have 3D cameras? What’s the penetration ratio? Yole predicts that a 1.4% penetration ratio in 2017 will grow to 55% in 2023.

Huawei... is making a big investment in digital photography, said Cambou. In comparing the size of active matrix (used for traditional photography), he calculated that Apple is devoting only 52 mm², while Samsung has committed to 91 mm² and Huawei 112 mm².
"

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Gratings for 3D Sensing

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

Synopsys publishes a presentation on "Design of Gratings for 3D Depth Sensing" by Tung Yu Su, Richard Hu, and Morgan Lu, Cybernet System Taiwan.

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Panasonic Long-Range ToF Sensor Article

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

Nikkei publishes an article on Panasonic 250m-range ToF solution, first presented 2 months ago.

"Panasonic Corp developed a range image sensor that can take an image of a 10cm object located 250m away in the dark. [there is no info on the range and resolution in a bright sunlight - ISW]


In the field of autonomous driving, the company considers that the sensor can supplement the functions of existing sensors because the new sensor (1) supports a longer distance than LiDAR (light detection and ranging), which enables to obtain range images, and (2) can take images in the complete dark unlike CMOS image sensors.

Panasonic expects to start to ship samples in fiscal 2019 and begin volume production in fiscal 2021.

...the new sensor uses a principle similar to the principle of flash-type LiDAR. In other words, near-infrared-light pulse (wavelength: 940nm, output: 1,200W, pulse width: 10ns, GaAs-based laser device in the case of the prototype) is applied to the entire imaging area.

With the prototype, near-infrared pulse is emitted with a cycle of 167μs to measure distance for each distance range. Based on a calculation conducted by Panasonic, when the viewing angle of the prototype is set at 20°, the number of photons coming from a distance of more than 100m away and entering one pixel is 1 or less. Therefore, in the case of a distance from which the number of incoming photons becomes 1 or less, measurement is carried out several times for the same distance range.
"

ToF APD sensor with 260,000 11.2μm2 pixels

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SmartSens Raises 10s of Millions Dollar in a New Financing Round

Image Sensors World        Go to the original article...

SmartSens reports that it has closed a new investment round of "tens of millions of dollars". The lead investor is the National Core Industry Investment Fund (Big Fund), the Beijing Core Dynamic Energy Investment Fund, and venture capital institutions such as Lenovo Venture Capital Group.

Li Sheng, COO of SmartSens, said: “SmartSens has successfully completed a new round of financing, which reflects the recognition of the capital market. This recognition is not only derived from the achievements of SmartSens in the past, but also from the deep technical accumulation of SmartSens and becoming a global Leading high-performance image sensor supplier's grand vision."

SmartSens and IBM have reached an IP cooperation agreement in July 2018 - SmartSens will receive a total of 14 categories of more than 40 CMOS image sensor related patents. The patents involved are mainly basic technology patents, covering pixel design, semiconductor processing and manufacturing, and chip packaging.

"CIS is a key area for the future development of the semiconductor industry. Under the background of the government's support for local chip companies, the development prospects of SmartSens are undoubtedly worth looking forward to," Core Dynamics Investment Director Manager Wang Jiaheng said. "Core kinetic energy investment will.. continue to help SmartSens's technological innovation and market operation level, and make SmartSens a unicorn enterprise in China's semiconductor industry."

Wang Guangxi, Managing Director of Lenovo Ventures, said: "In the era of smart Internet, with the rise of 5G, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and edge computing, the importance of image recognition has become more prominent. CIS chips are key components in the field of image recognition. Machine vision, intelligent transportation, autonomous driving, AR/VR and other fields are widely used, and it is a model application of technology innovation and industry integration. We are very optimistic about the development prospects of SmartSens, and are willing to help SmartSens through Lenovo's deep scientific resources and industrial advantages. Become a force that cannot be ignored in the CIS market."

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