Friday, December 19, 2014

Philips CCD Camera Gets Emmy Award

Grass Valley's LDK 6000 DPM CCD Multiformat HDTV Camera System, first introduced at the NAB Show in 2000 by Phillips, which was subsequently acquired by Grass Valley, gets 2014 Emmy Award for its ability to capture multiple video formats and frame rates without physically changing the image sensor.

Based on Grass Valley's patented Dynamic Pixel Management (DPM) imager technology, the LDK 6000 Camera has been used in a wide variety of high-profile sports events and broadcasting projects. "The Philips LDK6000 HD Camera System, first demonstrated in 2000, uses their patented DPM (Dynamic Pixel Management) imager technology, enabling the camera to capture multiple video formats and frame rates without physically changing the image sensor. The DPM sensor, a full frame transfer (FT) 2/3" type CCD imager, combines 9.2 million sub pixels (1920x4320) to capture 1920x1080, 1280x720, 720x576, or 720x480 pixel images in 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratios as well as 2.37:1 (Cinemascope). The DPM sensor, coupled with a mechanical blade shutter, eliminates the vertical artifacts and distortions exhibited by an Interline Transfer (IT) CCD type sensor."

"Our patented CCD technology was a real breakthrough in 2000, and the work we are doing now with our FT-CMOS technology is the next step. Being out front in capture technology guarantees that our customers will always be ready for any opportunity that arises in the future," noted Mike Cronk, SVP of strategic marketing, Grass Valley.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gentex Announces HDR CMOS Sensor with Per-Pixel Exposure Control

Marketwired: Gentex announces an HDR image sensor with per-pixel exposure control: "Automotive video for rear vision requires a camera with high dynamic range, which is the ratio between the brightest and darkest areas of a given scene. The challenge is to display the details in the darkest and brightest areas of a given scene simultaneously, without causing the display to "washout" due to bright light sources. The new Gentex camera meets this challenge in a unique way, with a proprietary CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) imager that delivers unprecedented dynamic range. The imager allows each individual camera pixel to choose its own exposure, self-adjusting so that the brightest and darkest areas of any given scene are clear and visible."

Gentex' Nov 2014 investor presentation gives a little bit more detail on the new HDR sensor:

Altera Presents 4K Video Processing IP

Altera presents its video processing solutions in a series of videos. The first video talks about about the challenges in 4K processing IP:

Another video talks about challenges on the way to 8K HEVC encoder:

The third video talks about 4K 60fps real-time HEVC encoder:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

InVisage Sets a New Record for Capital Raised by Any Imaging Company

InVisage announces that it has set a new record for capital raised by any imaging company. The company adds China Oceanwide USA Holdings, the US subsidiary of China-based China Oceanwide Holdings Group to its roster of investors. With Oceanwide’s investment, InVisage’s total funding for its latest round has grown to $32.5M. The previous investment round announced in April 2014 has already brought the company's total investment "to more than $100 million." Then, in Oct. 2014, Invisage got a venture loan.

We’re delighted to continue to attract market-driving investors,” says Jess Lee, CEO at InVisage. “These partners bring solid validation on an increasingly global scale. We are pleased to welcome Oceanwide as part of our broad initiative to address the China market.

In addition to Oceanwide, InVisage’s latest funding round also includes investments from GGV Capital, Nokia Growth Partners, InterWest Partners, Intel Capital, and RockPort Capital. Ivisage QuantumFilm products are said to be released next year.

In an unrelated news, Invisage publishes a poll of 500 mobile camera users on what bothers them in their cameras. Here are the partial results:

SMIC Opens 8-inch Image Sensor Fab in Shenzhen

PRNewswire: SMIC has begun operations at its Shenzhen 200mm wafer fab. This fab is the first 8-inch production line to be put into operation in Southern China, and is also the first domestic IC production line to be launched after the 'National Outline of Promoting the Development of IC Industry' was issued this year. According to the plan, by end of this year, the fab will reach an installed capacity of 10,000 wafers per month; by end of 2015 it will reach 20,000 wafers per month, and will continue to expand its capacity further. The wafer production will mainly be devoted to image sensors, logic circuits, power management ICs and other consumer and communication electronics.

Talking about other SMIC updates, the company's Nov. 2014 presentation shows 0.13um and 0.11um BSI sensors in production and TSV for CIS in development:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Huawei Presents "Symmetrical Dual Camera Technology"

GizmoChina: Huawei presents the new Honor 6 Plus mobile phone with dual rear camera. The two 8MP cameras can shot 13MP pictures when combined, or, in low light, provide a sensitivity equivalent to pixel size of 1.98um. The dual camera also supports HDR mode and fast 0.1s AF based on stereo triangulation and features a new DSLR-like ISP integrated onto its HiSilicon Kirin 925 application processor.

A Youtube video with English subtitles explains the dual camera features:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Image Sensors at ISSCC 2015

ISSCC 2015 program has 11 image sensor-related papers in 3 sessions, and one image sensing tutorial. T10 tutorial "CMOS Sensors for 3D Imaging" by David Stoppa covers all 3D techniques with an emphasis on ToF imagers.

Session 6 "Image Sensors and Displays" contains 5 image sensor papers:

A 1/1.7-inch 20Mpixel Back-Illuminated Stacked CMOS Image Sensor for New Imaging Applications
A. Suzuki, N. Shimamura, T. Kainuma, N. Kawazu, C. Okada, T. Oka, K. Koiso, A. Masagaki, Y. Yagasaki, S. Gonoi, T. Ichikawa, M. Mizuno, T. Sugioka, T. Morikawa, Y. Inada, and H. Wakabayashi
Sony, Atsugi, Japan
Sony Semiconductor, Kikuyou, Japan
Sony, Shinagawa, Japan
Sony LSI Design, Fukuoka, Japan
Sony LSI Design, Atsugi, Japan

133Mpixel 60fps CMOS Image Sensor with 32-Column Shared High-Speed Column-Parallel SAR ADCs
R. Funatsu, S. Huang, T. Yamashita, K. Stevulak, J. Rysinski, D. Estrada, S. Yan, T. Soeno, T. Nakamura, T. Hayashida, H. Shimamoto, and B. Mansoorian
NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories, Tokyo, Japan
Forza Silicon, Pasadena, CA

A 45.5µW 15fps Always-On CMOS Image Sensor for Mobile and Wearable Devices
J. Choi, J. Shin, D. Kang, D-S. Park
Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, Suwon, Korea

Single-Shot 200Mfps 5×3-Aperture Compressive CMOS Imager
F. Mochizuki, K. Kagawa, S-I. Okihara, M-W. Seo, B. Zhang, T. Takasawa, K. Yasutomi, S. Kawahito
Shizuoka University, Hamamatsu, Japan
The Graduate School for the Creation of New Photonics Industries, Hamamatsu, Japan

25.3μW at 60fps 240×160-Pixel Vision Sensor for Motion Capturing with In-Pixel Non-Volatile Analog Memory Using Crystalline Oxide Semiconductor FET
T. Ohmaru, T. Nakagawa, S. Maeda, Y. Okamoto, M. Kozuma, S. Yoneda, H. Inoue, Y. Kurokawa, T. Ikeda, Y. Ieda, N. Yamade, H. Miyairi, M. Ikeda, S. Yamazaki1
Semiconductor Energy Laboratory, Kanagawa, Japan
University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Session 11 "Sensors and Imagers for Life Sciences" has another 5 image sensor papers:

A 10.8ps-Time-Resolution 256×512 Image Sensor with 2-Tap True-CDS Lock-In Pixels for Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging
M-W. Seo, K. Kagawa, K. Yasutomi, T. Takasawa, Y. Kawata, N. Teranishi, Z. Li, I. A. Halin, S. Kawahito
Shizuoka University, Hamamatsu, Japan
Putra University, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

A 160×120-Pixel Analog-Counting Single-Photon Imager with Sub-ns Time-Gating and Self-Referenced Column-Parallel A/D Conversion for Fluorescence Lifetime Imaging
M. Perenzoni, N. Massari, D. Perenzoni, L. Gasparini, D. Stoppa
Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK), Trento, Italy

A 67,392-SPAD PVTB-Compensated Multi-Channel Digital SiPM with 432 Column-Parallel 48ps 17b TDCs for Endoscopic Time-of-Flight PET
A. Carimatto, S. Mandai, E. Venialgo, T. Gong, G. Borghi, D. R. Schaart, E. Charbon
Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

A Time-Correlated Single-Photon-Counting Sensor with 14GS/s Histogramming Time-to-Digital Converter
N. A. W. Dutton, S. Gnecchi, L. Parmesan, A. J. Holmes, B. Rae, L. A. Grant, R. K. Henderson
University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
STMicroelectronics, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

A Multimodality CMOS Sensor Array for Cell-Based Assay and Drug Screening
J. S. Park, T. Chi, J. Butts, T. Hookway, T. McDevitt, H. Wang
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

Session 16 on Emerging Technologies has one image sensor paper:

A Large-Area Image Sensing and Detection System Based on Embedded Thin-Film Classifiers
W. Rieutort-Louis, T. Moy, Z. Wang, S. Wagner, J. C. Sturm, N. Verma
Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pixart Applies for Water Flow Gesture Control Patent

Pixart patent application US20140358302 "Apparatus having gesture sensor" by Chung-yuo Wu, Yi-hsien Ko, and Nientse Chen proposes gesture control that can finely change the water flow, rather than a simple on/off IR switch used now:

Ambarella Receives GSA Award for Most Respected Emerging Public Semiconductor Company

BusinessWire: Ambarella announces that the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) has honored the company with the award for “Most Respected Emerging Public Semiconductor Company (achieving $100 to $250 million in annual sales).” “In previous years, Ambarella has been awarded six GSA awards including ‘Start-up to watch,’ ‘Most Respected Private Semiconductor Company’ and last year’s Morgan Stanley ‘Favorite Analyst Semiconductor Company.’ This year’s honor is a tribute to Ambarella’s diligence and continued excellence in business practices,” said Jodi Shelton, president of GSA.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Panasonic, Fujitsu Present Smartphone Camera Based VLC

Nikkei Tech, PCWorld: Panasonic presents Hikari ID technology based on ID signals transmitted by backlighting LEDs of LCD signs. The LEDs flicker at a rate that is imperceptible to the human eye, but picked up by smartphone camera sensors from up to 5m away. The transmission speed is said to be several kilobits per second, according to Panasonic, significantly faster than conventional speeds for visible light communication (VLC). Panasonic plans to commercialize a device that transmits an ID from a light source in fiscal 2015.

PCWorld: Fujitsu presented a similar illumination-based LED technology, but with a slower speed of 10bps. Fujitsu too aims to commercialize it during its fiscal 2015.