Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Qualcomm Glance Camera Module

MIT Technology Review: Qualcomm is working on Glance camera module that combines image sensor and a low-power processor that runs computer-vision algorithms. On a smartphone, Glance could make new security features practical, says Jeff Henckels, Qualcomm’s director of product management and business development. He says that manufacturers are interested in using iris scans to identify people and unlock phones—but a device’s camera can’t be constantly active without draining the battery. A Glance sensor consumes about 2mW of power, as opposed to hundreds of milliwatts for a typical smartphone camera module. Its resolution of 320 x 240 pixels isn’t high enough to handle tasks like facial recognition or to map the image of an individual’s iris, but it can recognize when a person is facing a phone’s screen and then activate the device’s front-facing camera to scan his or her iris.

Henckels says engineering samples of Glance hardware and a software development kit are in the hands of several device makers, and that smartphone vendors are testing the iris-scan capabilities. He declined to say when products featuring the technology would appear, or when Qualcomm would turn it into a commercial product.

Himax Announces UltraSenseIR Sensor

GlobeNewsWire: In line with its new focus on computer vision applications, Himax announces the UltraSenseIR HM1062 HD sensor delivering 44% NIR QE for a wide range of eye-safe, computer vision applications for compact devices such as front facing cameras for smartphones, notebooks, wearable devices, drones and other embedded devices. The company does not specify the wavelength at which the high QE has been measured.

Excellent NIR sensitivity with low noise performance is critical for high quality image data acquisition and allows computer vision systems to process and analyze the image data more effectively, and even capture data that would have been undetectable with a lower sensitivity sensor,” said Amit Mittra, CTO of Himax Imaging. “In an active light system, laser diodes are commonly used to project patterns that are superimposed on to the scene and decoded by the computer vision algorithms. The Himax UltraSenseIR™ NIR sensitivity allows for the reduction of the laser output power which can substantially improve the eye safety of the device.

Our growing UltraSenseIR™ product line has received positive feedback from our partners due to advancements in system performance and also opportunities to reduce system cost, power and mechanical dimensions,” said Jordan Wu, CEO of Himax Technologies. “As many industries and applications place more sensing elements and intelligence into smaller devices, the HM1062 compact 1/6.5-inch optical format, small package size and low external component requirement is ideal for a wide variety of embedded computer vision devices on the applications of handsets, tablets, laptops, other consumer electronics, automobiles, surveillance and Internet of Things.

The HM1062 operates up to 60 fps in 720p HD resolution, and up to 120 fps in binning or sub-sampling mode over MIPI CSI2. The HM1062 is currently sampling and scheduled for mass production by the second quarter of 2017.

Yet Another Mobileye Lecture

Mobileye CTO & Chairman Amnon Shashua delivers a keynote at Bosch ConnectedWorld Conference 2017:

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Teledyne Completes Acquisition of e2v

Teledyne and e2v jointly announce the successful completion of the acquisition by Teledyne of e2v. The aggregate value for the transaction was approximately £627M (or approximately $789M) taking into account e2v stock options and net debt as of September 2016. For the year ended March 31, 2016, e2v had sales of approximately £236M. Excluding transaction-related expenses, Teledyne management expects the transaction to be accretive to earnings per share.

Every business within e2v is highly complementary to Teledyne and will contribute to our balanced portfolio of highly engineered products. From industrial machine vision to space-based imaging... our respective capabilities and engineering-centric cultures are truly a great fit,” said Robert Mehrabian, Chairman, President and CEO of Teledyne. “We are proud to continue e2v’s 70-year legacy of innovation and specialized high technology products. In addition, e2v adds greater critical mass and technical resources to Teledyne in key locations, including the United Kingdom; Grenoble, France; and Seville, Spain.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Yole on Intel Acquisition of Mobileye

Yole publishes its analysis of Intel-Mobileye deal, mostly saying that both companies need each other to compete on the heated autonomous driving would-be market. Yole predicts the 2020-s will be the decade of sensing:

The autonomous vehicles take-off is expected in 5-10 years from now:

And some market data:

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Nikkei: Panasonic Possibly Divests from TPSCo

Nikkei: Panasonic prepares a restructuring plan to improve its financial performance. As a part of the plan, Panasonic contemplates selling its share in TowerJazz-Panasonic JV: "In the chip business, the company is weighing unloading shares in a joint venture with an Israeli enterprise."

ToF Imaging Book

It came to my attention that CRC Press released "High Performance CMOS Range Imaging: Device Technology and Systems Considerations" by Andreas Suss in 2016. The book appears to be a version of Andreas Suss 2014 PhD Thesis, freely available on Duisburg University site.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mobileye Lecture at MIT

MIT Center for Brains, Minds and Machines publishes a lecture "The Convergence of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Towards Enabling Autonomous Driving" by Amnon Shashua, Mobileye CTO and Chairman, that has been live streamed yesterday. The lecture also has a nice Q&A session starting 0:51:00 time, the camera requirements questions start at 1:08:34:

Thanks to DS for the link!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Magna Forecasts Automotive Camera Market to Reach $10B in 2020

AutomotiveNews: Magna VP Joel Gibson said the total market value for camera-based driver assistance systems is “growing very quickly” and he expects it to be worth about $10b per year by 2020. “It’s a very large growth area for Magna,” he said. Magna expects its car camera business to grow to $1B from the current $450M per year.

On another automotive news, AutoSens publishes a tutorial "What is LiDAR and why is it so important to driverless cars?" explaining the LiDAR basics and its strengths and weaknesses.

In yet another automotive news, NYTimes reports a use case for an in-car camera: "In France, Valeo, another supplier of automotive technology, is developing an infrared camera system that will monitor children in the rear seat as well as the driver’s shoulder, neck and head movements, looking for deviations from the norm.

Checking body temperature and even how the driver is dressed, the system will also be able to customize the interior temperature for each driver, said Guillaume Devauchelle, the company’s innovation director.

Inside ToF Proximity Sensor of iPhone 7 Plus

Systemplus Consulting publishes reverse engineering report of ST SPAD-based proximity sensor inside Apple iPhone 7 Plus. "The custom Apple device measures 2.80 mm x 2.40 mm, half the size of the rest of STMicroelectronics’s portfolio." VCSEL is integrated on top of the SPAD sensor chip: