Photonics Spectra on Emerging Image Sensor Applications

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Photonics Spectra publishes an article "Emerging Applications Drive Image Sensor Innovations" Hank Hogan. Few quotes:

"Vendors are responding by increasing sensor spectral range, integrating new capabilities into devices, and adding features such as 3D imaging. The result can be rapid growth in sensors, even in areas that are relatively stable. For instance, the worldwide market for cars is expanding at a relatively modest pace, according to Geoff Ballew, senior director of marketing in the automotive sensing division of chipmaker ON Semiconductor Corp. of Phoenix.

However, tepid growth is not the case for the automotive imaging solutions. “The number of sensors consumed and attached to those cars is growing wildly,” he said. “The image sensor chip business is growing in excess of 15 to 20 percent a year. The reason for that is cameras increasingly are adding new functionality to cars.”

Automotive sensors are expected to work from -40 to 125 °C. That interacts with the dynamic range requirement because as the operating temperature rises, so too does the dark current in the sensor. Vendors such as OmniVision must take special care within the manufacturing process to drive that dark current down, thereby expanding the operating temperature and preserving the high dynamic range.

Besides automotive, another area pushing imaging capability is the IoT. Refrigerators, washing machines, and home security systems are adding image sensors for cataloging food, recognizing people, and other tasks. But the IoT brings its own requirements, and they affect sensors, according to Nick Nam, head of emerging markets at OmniVision Technologies.

For instance, power consumption often may need to be minimized, particularly for IoT applications running on batteries.

Depth or 3D sensing is a capability being added to automotive, the IoT, and other applications. There are competing 3D imaging methods, and which is best will be different for different situations

Imaging in the shortwave IR region out to about 2 µm offers improved performance in poor visibility or at night. When combined with capabilities in the visible and UV, the resulting multispectral or hyperspectral imaging can provide important information not obtainable by visible imaging alone. While not new, the hybrid approach offers the advantage that as CMOS technology improves, so can the performance of the sensors. What’s more, the hybrid technique can be extended to other materials, allowing sensors to capture information in the mid- and thermal-IR at 5 or 10 µm, or more.
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On a similar matter, most of PWC's list of 8 emerging technologies in one way or another rely on image sensing: artificial intelligence, augmented reality, blockchain, drones, IoT, robotics, virtual reality, and 3-D printing:

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