Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Intel RealSense Front Camera Reverse Engineering

Chipworks publishes a report on Intel structured light RealSense camera reverse engineering.

The front-looking camera uses changing light pattern projected through ST-manufactured MEMS mirror:

The RealSense's IR image sensor has a lot of circuits around the pixel array:

Intro to 2nd Generation Sony Global Shutter Sensors

Point Grey publishes a nice Youtube video explaining the differences between 1st and 2nd generations of Sony Pregius CMOS sensors:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rumor: Qualcomm Vuforia Group is Up for Sale

One of the recent rumors I got: "As a part of QCOM's restructuring efforts announced this week, the Vuforia team is being put up for sale. After the Metaio-Apple purchase, which took a key client opportunity off the table, and with Google Android with their own internal solution, it is not surprising that QCOM management would make this move as a part of their restructuring efforts."

Just over a month ago, Vuforia won Auggie Award: "The Qualcomm Vuforia mobile vision platform won an Auggie Award for “Best Tool” for the third year in a row at this year’s sixth annual Augmented World Expo (AWE). Hosted by AugmentedReality.org, AWE celebrates wearable computing, gesture devices, the Internet of Everything, and of course, augmented reality (AR)."

The company's Vuforia Youtube channel has a lot of demos of the platform:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Pelican Imaging Layoffs?

Somebody posted in comments that Pelican Imaging has just layed off most of the company. Whether this is true or not, their technology page points to a big shift in direction: instead of being a main camera for smartphone, the company now proposes a supplementary camera array for just a depth map:

"This unique "array + main camera" approach allows mobile handset manufacturers to choose their own primary camera module (whether it’s 8MP, 13MP, or 20MP), and benefit from excellent image quality paired with the depth data from the scene."

Update: EETimes confirms the layoffs:

"The company said that approximately half the staffing of 25 was let go.

A spokesperson for Pelican Imaging confirmed that the company has "reduced some of its staff recently, to allow the company to focus on core product development."

"Regrettably, Mark Fulks has left the team at Pelican. Mark is a very well respected leader and we wish him success in his next endeavour," the spokesperson said.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Omnivision's Stockholders Approve Acquisition

PRNewswire: OmniVision's stockholders approved the Agreement and Plan of Merger of OmniVision, Seagull International Limited and Seagull Acquisition Corporation. Seagull International Limited and Seagull Acquisition Corporation are affiliates of a consortium composed of Hua Capital Management Co., Ltd., CITIC Capital Holdings Limited and GoldStone Investment Co., Ltd.

Under the terms of the Merger Agreement, stockholders of OmniVision will receive a total of approximately $1.9 billion. The transaction, which is expected to close in the third or fourth fiscal quarter of fiscal year 2016, is subject to regulatory approvals, including antitrust review in the U.S. and the People's Republic of China, review and clearance by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., clearance or approval under applicable Taiwan law, and other customary closing conditions. In order to obtain clearance or approval under applicable Taiwan law, OmniVision will divest certain of its investments in Taiwan, including certain of its interests in a joint venture.

Sony Proposes 2-layer Stacked PDAF

SonyAlphaRumors quotes Japanese-language Egami blog describing a new Sony patent application - a 2-layer image sensor having RGB pixels on top, and PDAF pixels on the bottom. I guess PDAF layer only gets IR and residuals of red image from the top RGB layer:

Thanks to TG for the link!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

ST Imaging Business Update

SeekingAlpha: ST Q2 2015 earnings call transcript has few details on ST imaging business:

Carlo Bozotti - President, CEO:

"I think now, Carlo, do we have this exact some of the camera modules. I think this is a business that we have decided to phase-out. So, we are moving from $20 million to $25 million per quarter in - $20 million per quarter for in Q4 last year. Well, this is the order of, we try to give you the precise number but this is a business that for last year was about $20 million and is going to be zero because of the phase-out that we have decided by Q4 this year. So, very close to zero, so, this is the impact of the phase-out of this part.

I have to say that in this unit, we also have the forma ST had some products that are also being phased out. So, now for us to after the discussion we had one quarter ago certain new opportunities that did not materialize. Of course for us remaining flat means to replace this business that is phasing out with new products.

"In other area, that is contributing to this growth is what we call Baby-Bear or the Time-of-Flight silicon photonics, this is now becoming more pervasive in Asia, particularly in the area so far but we have new opportunities of auto-focusing. So and is we have now a number of phone-makers in Asia that are using this new technology for a better out-of-focus.

I have, I think I have got the number here for the overall camera module business, I suppose this was in Q4 last year, right?

Carlo Ferro - CFO:

"No, this is $20 million Carlo, is the reduction in revenues from Q2 ‘14 to Q2 ‘15."

"And then, this is $28 million while the overall image business that decline revenues by $9 million in the same period."

Carlo Bozotti - President, CEO:

"So, in one year on this, in the last 12 months let’s say this camera module business, we lost about $30 million. And I think we have another $10 million or so to go but it will be zero in Q4 this year."

Guenther Hollfelder - Baader:

"The image sensors for automobiles."

Carlo Bozotti - President, CEO:

"Well, I think this is the kind of diversification that we want to push you. I think yesterday I was at major carmakers and say that our sensors is introduction and this is differentiated, of course it’s not a commodity camera module, it’s a differentiated imaging device and that is integral part of our system around advanced safety. And as you know, you need sensors on the car to monitor.

So it’s certainly is an important area. We also have image signal processing solutions for automotive applications. So it is a massive effort, this one around advanced safety. It’s close to our corporation with Mobileye but it’s also this special image-sensor for automotive is our ISP for automotive applications is very much centered on our FD SOI technology. And I think is certainly one area of priority for ST. But to be specific on the camera, we had introduction already.

Caeleste Gets New Business Development Manager

Jan Vermeiren joins Caeleste as a Business development manager. Jan has a long career in image sensor design and technology as well as in business development. He has more than 25 years of experience with CCD and CMOS image sensors (design, test & characterization, implementation), process development (CCD, CMOS and backend processes for imagers and FPA’s), Infrared FPA developments, including cryogenic circuit operation, radiation effects on detectors and circuits, camera development and a broad interest in imaging applications and spectroscopy. He also operated in an international context for bi-lateral or multi-party projects and programs.

"Eye on Sensors" Blog

Andrew Burt, Toshiba America's VP of Image Sensor Business Unit, starts "Eye on Sensors" blog. The first post is devoted to the automotive image sensor market:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sony Posts RGBW Sensor Flyer

Sony publishes 1/3.06-inch 13MP, 1.12um pixel IMX278 sensor flyer. Chipworks has found it inside Huawei P8 smartphone. Other than internal RGBW to Bayer re-mosaic block, the new sensor features "Dual sensor synchronization operation." Possibly, Sony prepares to the wide use of dual sensors in smartphones.

Functions and Features:
  • Stacked CMOS image sensor Exmor RS
  • 1.12um pixel
  • RGBW coding color filter and RGB primary color mosaic reproduction on chip
  • Super High SNR and Advanced Noise Reduction for white remosaic
  • Full resolution @30 frame/s (Normal). 4K2K @30 frame/s (Normal)
  • Lens Shading Correction
  • 2-wire serial communication (I2C “Fast mode Plus” is also supported)
  • Output video format of RAW10/8, COMP8
  • Independent flipping and mirroring
  • CSI-2 serial data output (MIPI 2lane/4lane, Max. 1.2 Gbps/lane )
  • Dual sensor synchronization operation
  • Power-on reset function
  • 7.168 K bit of OTP ROM for users
  • Built-in temperature sensor