Thursday, February 22, 2018

Automotive Videos

ULIS publishes a Youtube demo of its thermal sensors usefulness in ADAS applications. One can see how hot the car tires become on the highway, while keep being cool in city driving:

Sensata prizes Quanergy LiDAR performance:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Denso Vision Sensor for Improved Night Driving Safety

DENSO has developed a new vision sensor that detects pedestrians, cyclists, road signs, driving lanes and other road users at night. Working in conjunction with a millimeter-wave radar sensor, the new vision sensor allows automobiles to automatically activate emergency braking when obstacles are identified, helping reduce accidents and improve overall vehicle safety. It is featured in the 2018 Toyota Alphard and Vellfire, which were released in January this year.

It improves night vision by using a unique lens specifically designed for low-light use, and a solid-state imaging device with higher sensitivity. An improved white-line detection algorithm and road-edge detection algorithm also broaden the operating range of lane-keeping assistance and lane departure alert functions, while a 40% size reduction from previous models reduces costs and makes installation easier.

Recognition of human eyes
Recognition of vision sensor

Chronocam Changes Name to Prophesee, Raises More Money

GlobeNewswire: Chronocam, said to be the inventor of the world’s most advanced neuromorphic vision system, is now Prophesee, a branding and identity transformation that reflects the company's expanded vision for revolutionizing how machines see.

Prophesee SA (formerly Chronocam) receives the initial tranche of its Series B financing round, which will total $19M. Led by a new unnamed strategic investor from the electronics industry, the round also includes staged investments from Prophesee’s existing investors: 360 Capital Partners, Supernova Invest, iBionext, Intel Capital, Renault Group, and Robert Bosch Venture Capital. The latest round builds on the $20m Prophesee has raised over the past three years, and will allow it to accelerate the development and industrialization of the company’s image sensor technology.

The roots of Prophesee’s technology run deep into areas of significant achievements in vision, including the breakthrough research carried out by the Vision Institute (CNRS, UPMC, INSERM) on the human brain and eye during the past 20 years, as well as by CERN, where it was instrumental in the discovery of the invisible Higgs Boson, or “The God Particle” in 2012 after more than 30 years of research. Early incarnations of the Prophesee technology helped in the development of the first industry-grade silicon retina which is currently deployed to restore sight to the blind.

Thanks to its fast vision processing equivalent to up to 100,000 fps, Prophesee’s bio-inspired technology enables machines to capture scene changes not previously possible in machine vision systems for robotics, industrial automation and automotive.

Its HDR of more than 120dB lets systems operate and adapt effectively in a wide range of lighting conditions. It sets a new standard for power efficiency with operating characteristics of less than 10mW, opening new types of applications and use models for mobile, wearable and remote vision-enabled products.

Our event-based approach to vision sensing and processing has resonated well with our customers in the automotive, industrial and IoT sectors, and the technology continues to achieve impressive results in benchmarking and prototyping exercises. This latest round of financing will help us move rapidly from technology development to market deployment,” said Luca Verre, co-founder and CEO of Prophesee. “Having the backing of our original investors, plus a world leader in electronics and consumer devices, further strengthens our strategy and will help Prophesee win the many market opportunities we are seeing.

Prophesee AI-based neuromorphic vision sensor

Inerview with Nobukazu Teranishi

Nikkei publishes an interview with Nobukazu Teranishi, inventor of the pinned PD who recently was awarded the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

"Now... except for Sony, which leads the world in the image sensor sector, Japanese companies have fallen behind, particularly in the semiconductor industry.

Teranishi said that changes are necessary for Japan to continue to compete globally.

He also suggested that engineers and technical experts should be held in higher esteem in Japan.

"Excellent engineers are a significant asset. Companies overseas shouldn't be able to lure them out of Japan just with better salaries. If they are that valuable, their value should to be recognized in Japan as well," he said.

Determining salaries by how long people have been at the company seems like "quite a rigid structure," he said.

He added that engineers get little recognition for the work they do, with individual names rarely mentioned within the company or in the media.

Looking ahead to the future of image sensors, Teranishi feels one peak has been reached, with around 400 million phones produced annually that incorporate his technology. Next, he says, is the era of "images that you don't see."

For facial recognition and gesture input for games, he said, "No one sees the image but the computer is processing information. So there are many cases where a human doesn't see the image.

CIS Wafer Testing Presentation

Taiwan Jetek Technology publishes a presentation on CIS wafer-level testing.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

IR-Enhancing Surface Structures Compared

IEEE Spectrum: TED publishes UCD and W&WSens Devices invited paper on light-bending microstructures to enhance PD QE and IR sensitivity "A New Paradigm in High-Speed and High-Efficiency Silicon Photodiodes for Communication—Part I: Enhancing Photon–Material Interactions via Low-Dimensional Structures" by Hilal Cansizoglu, Ekaterina Ponizovskaya Devine, Yang Gao, Soroush Ghandiparsi, Toshishige Yamada, Aly F. Elrefaie, Shih-Yuan Wang, and M. Saif Islam.

"[Saif] Islam and his colleagues came up with a silicon structure that makes photodiodes both fast and efficient by being both thin and good at capturing light. The structure is an array of tapered holes in the silicon that have the effect of steering the light into the plane of the silicon. “So basically, we’re bending light 90 degrees,” he says."

The paper compares the proposed approach with other surface structures for IR sensitivity enhancement:

Monday, February 19, 2018

Corephotonics and Sunny Ship Millions of Dual Camera Modules to Oppo, Xiaomi and Others Corephotonics has partnered with Sunny Optical to bring to market a variety of solutions based on the company’s dual camera technologies. Under this agreement, Sunny has already shipped millions of dual cameras powered by Corephotonics IP to various smartphone OEMs, including Xiaomi, OPPO and others.

The new partnership combines Sunny’s automatic manufacturing capacity, quality control and optical development capabilities with Corephotonics’ innovation in optics, camera mechanics and computational imaging. This strategic license agreement covers various dual camera products, including typical wide + tele cameras, as well as various folded dual camera offerings, allowing an increased zoom factor, optical stabilization and a reduced module height.

The partnership allows Sunny to act as a one-stop-shop dual camera vendor, providing customized dual camera designs in combination with well-optimized software features. The collaboration leverages Sunny's manufacturing lead and strong presence in the Chinese dual-camera market.

Sunny Optical has the powerful optical development capability and automatic lean manufacturing capacity. We have experimented with virtually all dual camera innovations introduced in recent years, and have found Corephotonics dual camera technologies to have the greatest contribution in camera performance and user experience. Just as important is the compliance of their dual camera architecture with high volume production and harsh environmental requirements,” said Cerberus Wu, Senior Marketing Director of Sunny Optical.

We are deeply impressed by Sunny's dual camera manufacturing technologies, clearly setting a new benchmark in the thin camera industry," added Eran Briman, VP of Marketing & Business Development at Corephotonics. “The dual camera modules produced under this collaboration present smartphone manufacturers with the means to distinguish their handsets from those of their rivals through greatly improved imaging capabilities, as well as maximum flexibility and customizability."

EETimes Reviews ISSCC 2018

EETimes Junko Yoshida publishes a review of ISSCC 2018 image sensor session, covering Sony motion detecting event-driven sensor:

Microsoft 1MP ToF sensor:

Toshiba 200m-range LiDAR:

and much more...

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Materials of 3rd Workshop on Image Sensor and Systems Published

Image Sensor Society web site published most of the papers from 3rd International Workshop on Image Sensor and Systems (IWISS2016) held at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in November 2016. There are 18 invited papers and 20 posters presented at the Workshop, mostly from Japan and Korea.

Thanks to NT for the pointer!

Friday, February 16, 2018

LIN-LOG Pixel with CDS

MDPI Special Issue on the 2017 International Image Sensor Workshop publishes NIT paper "QLog Solar-Cell Mode Photodiode Logarithmic CMOS Pixel Using Charge Compression and Readout" by Yang Ni.

"In this paper, we present a new logarithmic pixel design currently under development at New Imaging Technologies SA (NIT). This new logarithmic pixel design uses charge domain logarithmic signal compression and charge-transfer-based signal readout. This structure gives a linear response in low light conditions and logarithmic response in high light conditions. The charge transfer readout efficiently suppresses the reset (KTC) noise by using true correlated double sampling (CDS) in low light conditions. In high light conditions, thanks to charge domain logarithmic compression, it has been demonstrated that 3000 electrons should be enough to cover a 120 dB dynamic range with a mobile phone camera-like signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) over the whole dynamic range. This low electron count permits the use of ultra-small floating diffusion capacitance (sub-fF) without charge overflow. The resulting large conversion gain permits a single photon detection capability with a wide dynamic range without a complex sensor/system design. A first prototype sensor with 320 × 240 pixels has been implemented to validate this charge domain logarithmic pixel concept and modeling. The first experimental results validate the logarithmic charge compression theory and the low readout noise due to the charge-transfer-based readout."

"The readout noise was measured at 2.2 LSB, which is 268 µV. Taking into account the source follower gain, the temporal noise on the floating diffusion was estimated at 335 µV. With a floating diffusion node capacitance estimated from design at 4 fF, the noise electron number is 12.3 electrons. The temporal noise in the logarithmic regime was measured at 6 LSB, which represents 34 electrons inside the buried photodiode. From this Johnson noise, the photodiode capacitance can be estimated at 6.2 fF which is quite close to the estimation from the layout."