Archives for November 2019

IDTechEx on LiDAR Technology

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PRNewswire: IDTechEx Research publishes its view on LiDAR approaches and comparisons. Few interesting points:

IDTechEx believes that non-rotating mechanical LiDARs is the cheapest technology todAY, but MEMS-based scanning LiDARs OVERTAKE THEM AS the cheapest option after 2020:


The technological options are quite diverse:


106 LiDAR companies are spread across the globe: 34 players headquartered in Asia (20 start-ups in China), 19 players headquartered in Europe, 48 players headquartered in North America and 5 players headquartered in the rest of the world (ROW).

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VIAVI Files 3D Sensing Patent Infringement Complaints Against LG Electronics, LG Innotek, and Optrontec

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PRNewswire: Viavi Solutions files a patent infringement complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission ("ITC") to initiate an investigation against LG Electronics, LG Electronics U.S.A., LG Innotek, and Optrontec.

VIAVI is a pioneer in the field of 3D motion sensing technology, including VIAVI's optical filters. In a typical gesture-recognition system, a light source emits near-infrared light towards a user and an optical filter is used to transmit the emitted light that is reflected by the user to a 3D image sensor, while substantially blocking ambient light. The patented VIAVI optical filters achieve superior optical performance, a desired reduction in filter thickness, and a reduced center wavelength shift with a change in incidence angle of the reflected light.

Mobile device manufacturers like LG Electronics, and its suppliers including LG Innotek and Optrontec, have incorporated VIAVI's patented optical filter design into their optical filters and components to produce high-end mobile phones and tablet computers featuring facial and gesture recognition technology. In the ITC, VIAVI seeks relief, including an exclusion order preventing Defendants from importing the infringing electronic devices into the United States. In the California litigation, VIAVI seeks damages and injunctive relief, including a permanent injunction prohibiting Defendants from importing the infringing electronic devices into the United States.

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Omnivision Announces 0.64MP Camera Module for Medical Applications

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PRNewswire: OmniVision announces the PureCel Plus-S stacked pixel-based OC0SA CameraCubeChip wafer-level camera modules for medical applications. This new module offers a 800x800 resolution with frame rate of 60fps, or 400x400 resolution at 90fps, for blur-free images and video. Additionally, the OC0SA provides a compact size of 2.6x1.6mm and an integrated IR cut filter. With 120° and 90° field of view options for diagnosis and therapeutic applications, respectively, this cost-effective module offers a combination of resolution, size and viewing angle for disposable endoscopes, providing doctors, veterinarians and industrial applications with the very best image quality. It has low power consumption of 82.2 mW to reduce heat at the distal tip of the endoscope for enhanced patient comfort.

"Existing medical cameras are either too large, in the case of reusable cameras, or their disposable counterparts are lacking in resolution for medical procedures such as gastrointestinal, laparoscopy and airway management. Doctors and clinicians require smaller size and increased resolution during these procedures, for better diagnosis and greater surgical precision," said Aaron Chiang, marketing director at OmniVision. "We are building on the success of our widely adopted CameraCubeChip line of wafer-level camera modules by doubling the resolution while maintaining an extremely small form factor, which is essential for these disposable applications."

OC0SA samples are available now.

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SPi Adds More Info on its X27 Color Night Vision

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SPi Infrared updates its web page on X27 color night vision system with the new info and video:



"The X27 is the highest performing true gen 4 color night vision low light sensor imaging system. The low noise real time 60hz HD detector is the first of its kind breakthrough technology that offers day like imagery in the darkest of environments. The X27 color low light camera images from 390 nm to 1.2 um and sees IR military spot lasers. The Sensitivity outperforms the latest image intensified tube night vision technology and does so in full color. The X27 is available in hand held imaging systems and camera core engines for integration into military grade day/night imaging systems.

The X27 utilizes newly advanced BSTFA (Broad Spectrum Thin Film Array) Technology.

The digital X27 ColorVision (TM) reconnaissance LLL (Low Light Level) true Color night vision VIS-NIR sensor is a technological breakthrough in night vision technology. High performance, low noise, high sensitivity & an incredible 5000000 equivalent ISO rating are just a few features offered by the system.

The SWaP ColorVision sensor can be integrated into night vision sights, scopes, monoculars, binoculars, drivers aid, UAV, UAS, unmanned and a wide array of defense, homeland security, border, ground, mobile, marine, airborne, military, wildlife, documentary, specialty combat camera photography, Astro/aerial/airborne/space remote imaging, aurora borealis, security and surveillance applications.
"


The company also announces its next generation product:

"Now In Development:

X28 HD 1600 Nm Real time imaging system, full true COLOR day night imaging system with 1550 Nm IR Laser Detection response. The absolute most sensitive night imaging system available for next generation night vision applications.
"

Another interesting article at SPi site is "History of night vision and IR thermal imaging equipment" starting from 1950s.

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Avalanche PD Thesis

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University of Trento, Italy, publishes PhD Thesis "Application of Avalanche Detectors in Scientific and Industrial Measurement Systems" of Andrea Ficorella. The thesis overviews APD and SPAD operation and discusses ToF measurements with them:

"Geiger-Mode avalanche photodiodes (GM-APDs) are diodes designed to operate at a reverse voltage that exceeds the breakdown voltage (VBD). Their ability to detect single photons combined with their excellent timing resolution make them ideal for applications in which low amplitude signals need to be detected with sub-ns timing resolution. In the research activity reported in this dissertation two different applications of Geiger-Mode Avalanche Photo Diode arrays have been analysed: a two-tier GM-APD array with inpixel coincidence for particle tracking and a direct Time-of-Flight range meter with a SiPM-based receiver."

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Sony Establishes AI R&D Organization

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EETimes: Sony launches Sony AI, a new organization to pursue advanced R&D in artificial intelligence. The AI research sites will be in Tokyo, Austin, Texas, and an unnamed city in Europe. Sony AI identified three “flagship” projects for its debut, in “gaming, imaging & sensing, and gastronomy,” according to the company.

Hiroaki Kitano, president and CEO, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, will run Sony AI globally. The US site’s chief will be Peter Stone, professor of Computer Science at the University of Texas at Austin.

Update: Sony official announcement is here.

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LFoundry Presentation

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Cern publishes LFoundry presentation "Technology development of CMOS Image sensors" by Andrea Del Monte. The presentation starts with the company somewhat entangled history leading to the recent acquisition by Wuxi Xichanweixin Semiconductor:

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Goodix Nominated for Most Respected Public Semiconductor Company Award

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Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) announces its 2019 award nominations with Goodix listed for Most Respected Public Semiconductor Company Achieving $500M to $1B in Annual Sales:

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Macquarie Research on Smartphone Camera Trends

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IFNews quotes Macquarie Research "surveyed a total of 132 smartphones launched in 2019 by the top 6 vendors – Samsung, Huawei, Apple, OPPO / Realme, vivo and Xiaomi. There are 489 cameras in total or an average of 3.7 cameras per device, with 1.0 front camera and 2.7 back cameras. About 45% of the 132 new devices adopted triple cameras, while quad camera penetration reached 18%."

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Yole’s Analysis of Hybrid Bonding IP

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Yole Developpement publishes "Hybrid Bonding: Patent Landscape Analysis" report:

"Generally, 2.5D-3D stacking was achieved thanks to Through Silicon Via (TSV) technology. However, TSVs are large and using them limits efforts to reach very dense architectures. Furthermore, filling TSVs with metals is complex and requires significant know how. To overcome these limitations, players have started to look at other solutions. A first step toward a new way of 3D stacking is ZiBond, developed by Ziptronix, a company founded in 2000 as a spin-out of Research Triangle Institute. ZiBond is an enhanced version of direct oxide bonding that involves wafer-to-wafer processing at low temperatures, from 150-300°C, to initiate high bond strengths, rivaling silicon. The next step was to combine the dielectric bond with embedded metal to simultaneously bond wafers or bond dies to wafers and form the interconnects. ZiBond is the dielectric bond that forms the basis for direct bonding interconnect (DBI) technology developed in 2005. Tessera, now called Xperi, acquired Ziptronix in 2015 and ZiBond and DBI were integrated in the Invensas subsidiary’s portfolio. This hybrid bonding technology is quickly becoming recognized as the preferred permanent bonding path to form high-density interconnects in heterogeneous integration applications, from 2D enhanced, to 3D stacking with or without TSVs, as well as MEMS.

After entering the CMOS Image Sensor (CIS) market in 2016, hybrid bonding technology has started to be investigated by other industries, such as memory. However, the hybrid bonding market’s growth follows Xperi’s developments. The company has adopted an aggressive strategy to assert its patents. Yet in parallel with the market and Xperi’s growth, some other players, like YMTC, Sony, Samsung and TSMC, have developed their own patent portfolios and strategies and are on the edge of releasing their first products using hybrid bonding processes. Understanding the IP landscape is becoming key to evaluate the risks and opportunities that go with the development and use of hybrid bonding technology.
"

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Free 1995 CCD Book

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Albert Theuwissen makes his 1995 book "Solid-State Imaging with Charge-Coupled Devices" available for a free download on this link.

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LiDAR News: Ouster, Velodyne

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BusinessWire: Ouster introduces the OS1-32, said to be the world’s most affordable 32-channel lidar. "Higher resolution sensors at an affordable price are critical for moving computer vision from simple obstacle avoidance to more advanced perception, and for moving projects from R&D to commercial viability," says Ouster CEO and co-founder Angus Pacala. "The OS1-32 gives customers what they ask for the most: higher resolution at an affordable price."

OS1-32 is priced at $8,000 for commercial applications (with volume pricing available) and $6,000 for non-profit university research.




BusinessWire: Velodyne introduces Alpha Prime, the next generation lidar with surround view.

The Alpha Prime’s features include:
  • Superior field-of-view: 360-degree surround view perception and a 40-degree vertical field-of-view.
  • High resolution of 0.2° x 0.1°
  • Long range:
    10% reflective targets >220m typical
    5% reflective targets >150m typical
    Ground plane hits >90m typical
  • Outstanding performance in a wide variety of lighting conditions, including retro reflectors and sunlight mitigation.
  • Exceptional detection of dark or low reflectance objects at long distances, such as tires, dark vehicles, low reflectivity pavement and low visibility pedestrians.
  • Advanced negative obstacle perception, such as potholes and cracks in the road.
  • The highest resolution along with robust reflectivity returns from over 4.8 million points per second, simplifying detection and tracking of vehicles, pedestrians and other obstructions.
  • High resolution and laser calibration enable the sensor to easily localize vehicles — outdoors or indoors — without a GPS, for precise positioning.
  • Improved efficiency for extended vehicle operating time within broad temperature and environmental ranges without the need for active cooling.
  • Advanced sensor-to-sensor interference mitigation.
  • Automotive mass production options from multiple sources for qualified programs.

The Alpha Prime is a significant step forward in enabling the advancement of the autonomous vehicle and robot industries,” said Anand Gopalan, CTO, Velodyne Lidar. “With its breadth of best-in-class features, the Alpha Prime is a marked advancement in sensor performance for real world conditions. Here at Velodyne, we take pride in listening to our customers and delivering innovative and high-performance products. We believe Velodyne’s versatility and agility extend our leadership status in the lidar business to empower autonomous solutions on a global scale.


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Trinamix 3D Imaging with Beam Profile Analyzer

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TrinamiX publishes a promotional video of its 3D imager:

"trinamiX 3D Imaging is based on patented Beam Profile Analysis technology. Beam profile analysis is an active measuring principle, that means that the object to be measured is illuminated with a light source emitting a regular dot pattern. The reflection of each light spot is captured by a sensor (e.g. a CMOS camera) and its beam profile is then being analyzed. From the specific beam profile, we extract the distance and information about the material of the measured object. This novel approach enables having an extra channel of information for improving decision making, robustness across platforms and reducing computational need over traditional technologies."



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IRay Demos its 1.3MP Microbolometric Camera

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China-based IRay publishes a short video from its 12um pixel microbolometric thermal sensor:

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Sony Stacked Sensor Tutorial

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IEEE Solid-State Circuits Society publishes a short tutorial "Circuit Configurations on stacked CMOS Image Sensor" presented at 2019 VLSI Conference by Yusuke Oike, Deputy Senior General Manager and Distinguished Engineer at Sony:

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Espros Demos 65m ToF Imaging at Night

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Espros ToF imagers show a remarkable range of 65m in absence of sunlight:

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TowerJazz Q3 2019 Earnings Call

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SeekingAlpha: TowerJazz updates on its image sensor business during its quarterly earnings call:

"Looking at our sensor business, we have new projects in the pipeline with large customers on our 65-nanometre global shutter platform that we expect will materialize towards the end of next year. While sales of the existing products are still growing. Although soft year-to-date, the industrial sensor market is beginning to recover and we’ve received double digit growth through 2020.

Our recent announcement of a wafer stacking backside illumination flow connecting a top thin BSI imaging wafer to a bottom CMOS wafer on our 65 nanometers, 300-millimeter technology has generated much interest. We’re in various engagements with significant customers for projects using this technology and the time of flight market mainly for face recognition.

We also continue our work with multiple customers on optical fingerprint solutions for under OLED and under LCD displays as well as we are seeing good adoption of our stitch single die, 300-millimeter substrate x-ray sensors.
"

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Quantum and Classical Images Separation

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Science Magazine publishes a paper "Quantum image distillation" by Hugo Defienne, Matthew Reichert, Jason W. Fleischer, and Daniele Faccio from University of Glasgow, UK, and Princeton University, USA. The same paper has already been published in Arxiv.org.

"Imaging with quantum states of light promises advantages over classical approaches in terms of resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, and sensitivity. However, quantum detectors are particularly sensitive sources of classical noise that can reduce or cancel any quantum advantage in the final result. Without operating in the single-photon counting regime, we experimentally demonstrate distillation of a quantum image from measured data composed of a superposition of both quantum and classical light. We measure the image of an object formed under quantum illumination (correlated photons) that is mixed with another image produced by classical light (uncorrelated photons) with the same spectrum and polarization, and we demonstrate near-perfect separation of the two superimposed images by intensity correlation measurements. This work provides a method to mix and distinguish information carried by quantum and classical light, which may be useful for quantum imaging, communications, and security."

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PMD Demos its Multipath Reduction Approach

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IEEE Sensor publishes PMD and Seigen University demo video on ToF multipath distortions reduction:

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Cameralabs Cafe Podcast episode 003

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The Cameralabs Cafe podcast returns where Gordon and Doug discuss the health and future of the Micro Four Thirds system, take a look at the new Olympus OMD EM5 III and revisit the Lumix G9 which keeps getting better! So grab a drink and join us in the Cameralabs Cafe for a catch-up of all the photography news and reviews!…

The post Cameralabs Cafe Podcast episode 003 appeared first on Cameralabs.

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Nikon Z 24mm f1.8 S review so far

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The Nikon Z 24mm f1.8 S is a wide-angle prime lens for Nikon’s Z-series mirrorless cameras. It’s the widest native prime in the series so far, delivering classic coverage with a bright aperture. Like other native Z lenses though, it’s up against adapted F-mount options, so in his review-so-far, Thomas publishes his initial results and samples!…

The post Nikon Z 24mm f1.8 S review so far appeared first on Cameralabs.

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Teledyne e2v Re-Announces 1.3MP ToF Sensor

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Eight months after the first announcement, Teledyne e2v announces one more time its Bora ToF CMOS sensor for 3D detection and distance measurement in industrial applications, including vision guided robotics, logistics and surveillance.

Based on a 10µm pixel design and incorporating a resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels, the Bora image sensor offers a unique on-chip gated global shutter mode with gating times of up to 42ns at 30fps in a four-phase operation.

The Bora sensor comes with an evaluation kit, comprised of a compact 1-inch optical format calibrated module, which includes a light source for near infrared illumination. It also includes optics targeted at performing the ToF imaging at short-range distances to 5m or mid-range distances to 10m, while capturing real-time 3D information at a full resolution of 1.3MP.

Ha Lan Do Thu, Marketing Manager for 3D imaging at Teledyne e2v says, “We are very pleased to announce our newest Time-of-Flight sensor, which provides customers with true 1.3MP depth resolution at more than 30 fps. The sensor uniquely achieves excellent precision and accuracy in 3D measurements and is highly flexible, handling both short- and long-range capture over 10 meters and in outdoor conditions.

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Omnivision Unveils VGA GS Sensor with Lightguide

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PRNewswire: OmniVision announces a 3um pixel OV7251-2B global shutter sensor with shutter efficiency of 99.96% for machine vision applications. The cost-effective OV7251-2B achieves that by adding a new lightguide feature that improves the angular response of light capture for better system-level optical performance.

"We are improving on our widely deployed family of global shutter VGA sensors by providing a drop-in replacement for our prior generation sensor that offers an even better level of shutter efficiency with no design changes required," said Devang Patel, senior staff marketing manager for the security and emerging segments at OmniVision. "Additionally, our new lightguide feature improves the family's capture capabilities with better light confinement for higher system level optical performance."

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Ink for Image Sensor Printing

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University of Toronto publishes an ACS paper "Stable Colloidal Quantum Dot Inks Enable Inkjet-Printed High-Sensitivity Infrared Photodetectors" by Rafal Sliz, Marc Lejay, James Z. Fan, Min-Jae Choi, Sachin Kinge, Sjoerd Hoogland, Tapio Fabritius, F. Pelayo García de Arquer, and Edward H. Sargent.

"Colloidal quantum dots (CQDs) have recently gained attention as materials for manufacturing optoelectronic devices in view of their tunable light absorption and emission properties and compatibility with low-temperature thin-film manufacture. The realization of CQD inkjet-printed infrared photodetectors has thus far been hindered by incompatibility between the chemical processes that produce state-of-the-art CQD solution-exchanged inks and the requirements of ink formulations for inkjet materials processing.

We fabricate inkjet-printed photodetectors exhibiting the highest specific detectivities reported to date (above 1012 Jones across the IR) in an inkjet-printed quantum dot film. As a patternable CMOS-compatible process, the work offers routes to integrated sensing devices and systems.
"

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TechInsights Pixel Zoo

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Recently, Techinsights published a number of pixel pictures from its reverse engineering reports.

Samsung S5K2P7SQ ISOCELL Fast 16MP 30fps sensor with 1.12um pixel:


Sony IMX307 STARVIS 2.1MP sensor with 2.9um pixels:


Sony IMX402 ToF sensor:


Sony IMX410 full-frame sensor from Sony A7 III mirrorless camera:


Sony IMX250MZR Global Shutter polarization-sensitive CIS with 3.45um pixels:


SmartSens SC130GS Global Shutter CIS:


SK Hynix Hi-1332 CIS from Huawei RNE-AL00 front-facing camera module:


SiOnyx XQE-1310 IR-enhanced sensor:


ON Semiconductor AR0521 5.1MP sensor with 2.2um pixels:


OmniVision OS05A20 (OMN-OSE523) 5MP IR-enhanced Nyxel sensor with 2um pixels:


Sony 12 MP CIS from iPhone XS Max Rear-Facing Wide-Angle Camera:

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Contamination at Samsung 8" Giheung Fab

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BusinessKorea reports that Samsung foundry was affected by defects at its Giheung fab that manufactures 90nm image sensors among other products. "The defects were caused by the use of contaminated equipment on an 8-inch wafer line located in Samsung Electronics' Giheung Plant in Korea. A Samsung Electronics official acknowledged that defective products were found, but said that the process has already been normalized and that the damage is estimated at billions of Korean won.

However, some experts say that the damage may be much more than estimated by Samsung Electronics. "I understand that Samsung has not calculated the exact amount of the damage yet," said an industry insider. "The loss can be much larger than the company’s estimate.


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LiDAR News: Velodyne, Robosense, Cepton, Blickfeld, Leddar

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Silicon Valley Business Journal reports that Velodyne CEO and Founder David Hall prepares to take the company public, but in an unconventional way of "direct listing" - selling shares direct to the public without an intermediate entity like NASDAQ:

"Only two major companies, Spotify and Slack Technologies, have gone that route so far. Businesses that take the direct listing route make their Wall Street debuts without the road shows and price-setting that underwriters help with. But they don't get the infusion of cash that accompanies a traditional IPO, either. Hall doesn't sound convinced that would change his mind.

"It turns out to be a lot more work for us," he said. "It looks daunting from my point of view, so I'm dragging my feet on the thing. The last few weeks have not been kind to IPOs either."

Velodyne Lidar is valued at about $1.8 billion after raising about $225 million from investors who include Nikon, Ford Motor Co. and Baidu, according to PitchBook Data.
"

BusinessWire: RoboSense wins the CES 2020 Innovation Award the second year in a row. This year’s Award is for the first MEMS-based Smart LiDAR Sensor, the RoboSense RS-LiDAR-M1, winning in the Vehicle Intelligence and Self-Driving Technology category. RS-LiDAR-M1 is said to be the world’s first and only MEMS-based smart LiDAR sensor for self-driving passenger vehicles with its own embedded AI algorithm technologies and SoC.


BusinessWire: Cepton announces its Helius Smart Lidar System has been named a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Honoree. Helius is honored in two categories: Tech for a Better World, which highlights product innovations aiming to make positive social and global impacts.

Helius fuses three technologies: Cepton’s patented Micro Motion Technology (MMT); edge computing for minimum data burden and maximum ease of integration; and built-in advanced perception software for real-time analytics.


Blickfeld too receives CES 2020 Award in Vehicle Intelligence & Transportation category. Blickfeld LiDARs use centimeter-sized mirrors with a scanning angle of up to 100° x 30° resulting in a range of up to 100 meters at 10 % reflectivity. The optical coaxial setup provides spatial filtering to achieve the highest sunlight suppression. Solid-state technology ensures mechanical robustness and longevity.


Leddar PIXELL wins CES 2020 Award in Vehicle Intelligence & Transportation category. Pixell is a 3D flash LiDAR solution with a 180-degree field of view specifically designed for ADAS and Autonomous driving applications on autonomous shuttles, commercial vehicles, transit buses, and robotaxis. It leverages LeddarTech's state-of-the-art LCA2 LeddarEngine at its core.

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Rumors and Other Questionable News

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Digitimes publishes an article saying that "Samsung Electronics is reportedly set to implement a US$100 billion sensor development project seeking to tap the lucrative worldwide sensor market."

SparrowNews quotes Chinese sources talking about "Sony Black Technology" used in not-yet-announced IMX686 sensor for smartphones:

"Sony officially said that Sony Black Technology not only created a variety of high-quality professional imaging equipment, but also provided a core component - image sensor for many brands of smartphones. The new year is not far off, let's look at the performance of the 2020 new cable image sensor." (Google translation)

"Sony's black technology not only creates a variety of high-quality professional imaging equipment, but also for a number of brands of smartphones to take pictures of the core components - image sensors. The new year is not far away, together to see the performance of the new 2020 Sotheby's image sensor." (Microsoft Bing translation)



SinoLink Securities expects Sony to unveil its 64MP 0.8um sensor till the end of this year. Possibly, the IMX686 is this sensor:

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Trieye SWIR Sensor Wins CES Innovation Awards

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PRNewswire: Israeli SWIR startup TriEye wins two CES 2020 Innovation Awards. TriEye's technology was selected as a recipient in the Embedded Technologies category, as well as Vehicle Intelligence and Transportation.

TriEye is breaking the status-quo of lidar, radar, and standard vision cameras with its CMOS-based SWIR camera. The company's advanced nanophotonics research enables a mass-produced, small size, HD SWIR camera at 1000x lower cost than the current technology.

"CES is an amazing showcase of the future of mobility and we are honored to be recognized by technology experts from the CES Innovation Awards," said Avi Bakal, CEO and Co-Founder of TriEye. "TriEye is committed to saving lives by reducing risks of car accidents in all weather and lighting conditions. We will continue to pave the way for the next generation of ADAS and AV functions with SWIR as a critical element in the necessary sensor fusion solution, enhancing vision at an affordable price."

"While TriEye's primary target market is the automotive industry, its technology is highly applicable to a wide range of other sectors, including mobile, industrial, security and optical inspection," said Ziv Livne, VP Product and Business Development of TriEye - "The company intends to address challenges and opportunities in these fields in the near future."

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ON Semi Sensors in Bad Weather

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ON Semi promotional video talks about its image sensor operation in inclement weather conditions:

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