Sunday, April 26, 2015

Yole on Apple Acquisition of LinX

Yole Developpement publishes its thoughts on the recent Apple acquisition of LinX Imaging. Yole believes that computational imaging is moving toward the mainstream, and dual cameras will appear in many products:

Pelican CEO Interview

Inside AR Conference, to be held in San Francisco on May 20-21, 2015, publishes an interview with Pelican Imaging CEO Chris Pickett. Few quotes:

"I’ll be talking about how critical depth and 3D data is for the AR market.

Acquiring depth data is especially critical for AR and VR headsets, since the interactive user experience depends on knowing where objects are in space.

My gut says that AR will find its way into the mass market in the next 5 years. That prediction is also backed by market data.

I’ve seen some pretty amazing stuff from a few companies that Pelican is working with, but I can’t really talk about those yet.

VLSI Symposium Preview

VLSI Symposium tipsheet offers a preview of two image sensor papers:

A 3D stacked CMOS Image Sensor with Global-shutter mode and high speed capturing mode:
The paper by Toru Kondo et al. from Olympus Corp. will describe a 16MP 3D stacked CMOS image sensor with pixel level interconnections using 4 million micro bumps. The two semiconductor substrates are bonded by a 7.6um pitch micro-bump array, and the storage node array is comprised on the bottom substrate to improve parasitic light sensitivity (PLS). Both a 16Mpixel global-shutter mode with a -180dB PLS and 2Mpixel 10,000fps high speed image capturing are achieved.

A 3D stacked CMOS Image Sensor with a low noise technique:
The paper by Shang-Fu Yeh, et al., of TSMC will describe an 8Mpixel 3D-stacked low noise CMOS image sensor with Conditional Correlated Multiple Sampling (CCMS) technique. This technique is proposed to solve the low frame rate issue by using multiple small-range voltage ramps. A 0.66e-rms input referred temporal readout noise is obtained with a 5-times CCMS technique, and also both thermal noise and the random telegraph signal (RTS) noise can be
reduced by using CCMS technique.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Eye-Tracking Tech Company Tobii Valued $244M at IPO Stockholm, Sweden-based eye-tracking technology company Tobii IPO today gives it a market cap of SEK 2.1 billion (about $244M). Tobii says the offering was over-subscribed multiple times. Tobii will receive gross proceeds of approximately SEK 400 million ($46.5M) through the issue of new shares as part of the IPO, before a possible exercise of the over-allotment option.

The company has about 570 employees across its offices in Sweden, the US, China, Germany and other countries.

Pentax DSLR Features Pixel Shift Demosaic

Imaging Resource: New Pentax K-3 II DSLR features Ricoh pixel shift resolution enhancement that removes the need for Bayer demosaicing, first presented at CP+ a month ago.

Pentax IS actuator shifts the sensor by 1 pixel in 4 directions. "The result is an image which has full color information at every pixel location -- and thus improved resolution and a greater resistance to false color artifacts -- but only a relatively modest increase in file size...

As an added bonus, images shot in the Pixel Shift Resolution mode should also have a cleaner, tighter noise pattern. The reason for this is twofold. First, since multiple exposures are involved, noise can be averaged out across those exposures. Secondly, in a Bayer-filtered sensor, two out of three colors at each pixel location must be interpolated (read: guessed) from the values of surrounding pixels. When that happens, noise from adjacent pixels is likewise spread across their neighbors, resulting in a less film-like and blotchier, more objectionable noise pattern. With full color information at each pixel, a Pixel Shift Resolution shot's high ISO grain pattern is finer, and we're guessing easier to clean up post-capture, too.

Pentax Youtube video calls this mode "Pixel Shift Resolution". It's somewhat similar to one appeared in the previous Pentax DSLR model, but then it used to be a high frequency 500Hz vibration, whereas now it's said to provide a higher resolution for static objects:

Galaxycore Ranked High Among China Semiconductor Companies

PWC report "A decade of unprecedented growth: China’s impact on the semiconductor industry, 2014 update," dated by January 2015, ranks Galaxycore #10 on revenue basis among Chinese semiconductor companies. Other image sensor vendors in China, such as Superpix and Brigates have not make it even in the list of 50 largest companies.

Nomura report "Greater China Semi" places Galaxycore at #8 among semiconductor design houses in China:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ziptronix Lost Lawsuit Against Omnivision and TSMC

Finnegan: Ziptronix has lost its 2010 lawsuit against Omnivision and TSMC on infringement on its 9 patents on direct wafer bonding.

"In Ziptronix, Inc. v. OmniVision Technologies, Inc. a Taiwanese contract manufacturer and its U.S. subsidiary moved for summary judgment of no infringement because the allegedly infringing activity occurred only in Taiwan, with the exception of negotiations and contracting in the United States. The district court granted summary judgment, finding that even if negotiation and contracting occurred in the United States, there could be no direct infringement under U.S. patent law because the contracts contemplated delivery and performance to take place solely abroad. Additionally, the patent holder failed to present evidence that the Taiwanese manufacturer's customer, OmniVision, committed an underlying act of direct infringement. Thus, the court concluded, the Taiwanese manufacturer and its U.S. subsidiary did not commit or induce infringing acts "within the United States."

For those who skilled in legal language and logic, the full text of California Court summary judgement from Oct. 21, 2014 can be downloaded here. More discussions on patent law gray areas, apparently involved in this case, can be found in another Finnegan article.

8K UHDTV Adoption Milestones

Ikegami has collaborated NHK to develop an 8K UHDTV camera, the "SHK-810", and achieved significant size reduction and light-weight design for field and live production, which can be operated at the same level as the current broadcast camera systems. The camera employs a single 33MP Super 35 CMOS sensor, achieving 4,000TVL horizontal and vertical resolution. The color filter on the sensor uses the dual-green SHV color arrangement.

According to the roadmap of Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), test-broadcast of 4K/8K by BS satellite television will start in Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and 8K on-air broadcast will start as soon as possible by 2018 in Japan. The 4K/8K broadcasting is targeted at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Per MIC, by the year 2020, 4K/8K broadcasting should be shared by public viewing points in Japan, and 4K/8K television sets should be widespread in the consumer market by that time.

Ikegami SHK-810

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sony Ups its Profit Forecast

WSJ, Bloomberg: Sony revises upward its profit forecast for its fiscal year ended on March 31, 2015. One of the reasons for revision is higher than expected image sensor sales. The final yearly results will be reported on April 30.

The demand for front-facing camera modules is going through the roof, because everyone wants to take high-quality selfies, and that doubles the market size for Sony,” said Amir Anvarzadeh, a manager of Japanese equity sales at BGC Partners Inc. in Singapore. “The auto segment of the market is also beginning to boom. Cars potentially may have more than five modules per car.

Sharp Presents High End Sensors

Sharp's March 2015 catalog reveals new high end products. The company presents RJ5DY1BA0LT, a 1-inch 13MP CMOS sensor capable of 4K 60fps video:

One can also buy an off-the-shelf 21MP camera module with 4K 30fps video and F2.0 lens:

Also, Sharp greatly expands its CCD product line, announcing no less than 19 new CCDs, and another 4 marked "under development."