Friday, April 17, 2015

Light Comes Out of Stealth Mode

MIT Technology Review publishes an article on a mysterious Palo-Alto, CA-based startup Light, mentioned in the blog almost a year ago. The new article reveals much more info on the company, its technology, and its plans:

"Light aims to put a bunch of small lenses, each paired with its own image sensor, into smartphones and other gadgets. They’ll fire simultaneously when you take a photo, and software will automatically combine the images. This way, Light believes, it can fit the quality and zoom of a bulky, expensive DSLR camera into much smaller, cheaper packages—even phones.

...the startup says it expects the first Light cameras, with 52-megapixel resolution, to appear in smartphones in 2016. array of 16 camera modules with focal lengths of 35, 70, and 150 millimeters. ...when you take a picture with a Light camera it’s taking several pictures at the same time from slightly different perspectives (though it won’t show them to the user). The level of zoom that the user selects determines which modules will fire when he takes a picture, and where the mirror contained in each module moves to capture light. It could aim for light straight ahead, or off at an angle, for instance. The resulting shots are then digitally combined in a way that emulates a much bigger camera lens.

...Light is still in the early stages, as it doesn’t yet have a prototype of a full product completed.

Light plans to announce a deal on Tuesday with Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer. Foxconn is licensing Light’s technology for use in mobile devices and is investing an undisclosed amount in the company.

A rendering of what a smartphone containing a Light camera might
look like from the back.

Silicon Retinas Talk

Youtube IBM Research channel posted a video of Tobi Delbruck's, ETH Professor and iNiLabs Co-founder, talk on silicon retinas:

Thanks to DSSB for the link!

2015 Harvest Imaging Forum on ToF Cameras

Albert Theuwissen renames his yearly Solid-State Imaging Forum to Harvest Imaging Forum, to be held on Dec. 10-11, 2015. This year the forum is devoted to 3D Time-of-Flight imaging. More information about the speaker and the agenda of the forum will follow in the coming weeks.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Self-Powered Image Sensor

EurekAlert: A research team led by Shree K. Nayar, Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University, has invented a prototype video camera, said to be the world's first fully self-powered - it can produce an image each second, indefinitely, of a well-lit indoor scene.

Self-Powered Pixel Design:
The photodiode PD is operated in photovoltaic mode with zero bias.
The voltage of the anode of PD increases to a level proportionate
to the incident lightenergy. In this case PD draws zero power to
produce a voltage proportionate to the incident light, and since it is
not biased it does not produce any dark current. An important feature
of the design is that emitter of transistor Q1 can be switched between
ground (for resetting) and a power supply (for harvesting).
Self-powered sensor assembly

Adimec Compares NIR MTF of CCD vs CMOS Sensors

Adimec continues its series of CCD vs CMOS sensor comparisons. The latest part shows that DTI in CMOS sensors, such as Sony IMX174, greatly improves MTF in NIR:

Blackmagic Super 35 Sensor Features 15 Stops DR, Global Shutter, 12MP Resolution, 120fps Speed

Blackmagic Design announces a high performance 4.6K sensor for its URSA high end digital film cameras. The new Super 35 image sensor features high resolution of 4608 x 2592 at 120 fps and an wide 15 stops of DR for images that rival those shot on traditional 35mm film. The sensor also features "Professional global shutter for smooth pans and image motion," albeit at slower speed to allow a digital domain CDS, I'd guess.

(via FStopAcademy)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Huawei P8 Smartphone Features "World’s First Four-Color RGBW Sensor"

Huawei P8 flagship smartphone announced today features "a new philosophy for camera design leveraging a combination of hardware, software and proprietary algorithms to help users capture beautiful photographs, even in the worst lighting conditions."

P8 camera sensor is claimed "The world’s first four-color RGBW sensor enhances brightness by 32 percent in high contrast lighting situations, reduces it by 78 percent in low light environments. DSLR-level independent image processor enabling noise reduction when shooting and intelligent detection of a high-contrast lighting environment." It's not clear what exactly makes Huawei camera "world's first RGBW," as other smartphones on the market already use sensors with white pixels in the array.

The camera also features "Industry-leading Optical Image Stabilizer technology up to 1.2°, enabling high-quality photos and videos, and managing camera shake so images are consistently sharp." For a very good image stabilizer one needs to have about 2-2.5deg range, but 1.2deg is not bad too.

About a half of Huawei P8 presentation is devoted to the camera (Youtube presentation is here):

Thanks to TS for the pointer!

Altek: Dual-lens Modules Become Mainstream smartphone Camera Solution

Digitimes: Dual-lens modules are becoming a mainstream solution for smartphone cameras starting 2015, says Alex Hsia, chairman for Taiwan-based digital camera ODM and lens solution provider Altek. Smartphone vendors' adoption of dual-lens modules for cameras is motivated by product differentiation, as most smartphones are quite similar in screen, processor, memory capacity and operating system specifications, Hsia said.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Apple Acquires Array Camera Developer LinX

WSJ, Techccrunch: Apple has acquired Israeli array camera-technology company LinX Computational Imaging Ltd. Apple confirmed the acquisition with its standard statement when it has bought a company: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”

The companies had been discussing an acquisition price of about $20 million, according to people familiar with the matter. LinX was founded in 2011. Co-founders and principal shareholders Ziv Attar and Andrey Tovchigrechko are industry veterans. Before starting LinX, Mr. Attar served as a senior optics specialist at Israeli defense company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. Mr. Tovchigrechko led a team of algorithm developers at Samsung Israel.

Most of LinX web site has changed today and now shows very little info out of the rich content covered in the earlier posts here and here.

Few slides from the company presentation deck, now missing from its web site (sorry for too many pictures today):

Update: Globes reports "LinX had previously been in advanced talks to sell the company to both LG and Samsung and had even launched a successful pilot project with the latter but no agreement was ever reached on embedding the cameras into Samsung's smartphones."

Macrumors has uploaded the complete LinX June 2014 presentation on Sribd.

Movidius Raises $40M

Movidius announces that it has raised $40 million in new funding. The investment was led by Summit Bridge Capital (a collaboration between Atlantic Bridge Capital and WestSummit Capital) and includes new contributions from ARCH Venture Partners and Sunny Optical Technology Group, as well as early investors including Atlantic Bridge Capital, AIB Seed Capital Fund, Capital-E, DFJ Esprit and Robert Bosch Venture Capital. The funding is said to be the most significant investment in a fabless semiconductor company in the past two years.

Movidius has pioneered an entirely new class of cost-effective, low power and high performance processors, software and development tools, and this platform enables our customers to implement visual sensing that aims to mirror human vision capabilities,” said Remi El-Ouazzane, CEO of Movidius. “This infusion of capital provides us with the resources to expand strategically, innovate constantly and extend our market leadership.

A promotional Vimeo video talks about the company and its markets:

Movidius from One Net Marketing on Vimeo.