Saturday, November 22, 2014

Gestigon Completes Series A Round

Lübeck, Germany-based gesture recognition company Gestigon announces it has closed a Series A funding round with a 7-digit-USD financing 10 days ago. The company has been founded in 2011 as a University of Lübeck spin-off, and now employs 21 people in offices in Lübeck, Germany and Sunnyvale, CA.

Gartner's 2014 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies maps gesture control as a maturing up technology with its plateau of productivity to be reached in the next 2-5 years:

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

iPhone 6 Plus Camera Issues

Apple support forums quote few users apparently having issues with iPhone 6 Plus OIS or AF actuator. The image appears blurry and wobbly and phone is audibly vibrating. It's not known how widespread is this defect, but many web sites talk about that: Phonearena, Daily Mail, BGR, and more. Only iOS 8.1 devices reported to be affected so far. A Youtube video shows the defect:

Other video demos are here, here, and here.

Sony Promotes 4K Resolution for Security Applications

Sony publishes Youtube video showing 4K technology for security cameras:

Another Sony video demos 5-axis optical image stabilization operation in Alpha 7-II DSLR, said to be the first in a full-frame camera.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

MTF vs F-number vs Wavelength

Albert Theuwissen publishes another part in MTF measurement series. This part discusses how the optimal lens F-number depends on wavelength and on the pixel crosstalk.

Eric Fossum Life Story

Trinidad Guardian publishes an article based on Eric Fossum's lecture on image sensors at the local university. After going through many interesting facts from the image sensor history, the article quotes Eric:

"Looking back at his work with the CMOS sensor, he boiled his learnings down into five brief sentences:

•Create the invention.
•Successfully commercialise it.
•Deliver on the promise compellingly.
•Sell the company.
•Defend the patents.

Best on the Market

Jeff Bier, BDTI president, publishes an interesting view on the computer vision IP cores market: "[Vision] processor core suppliers can choose to keep the details of their products confidential, disclosing them only to prospective customers under non-disclosure agreements. And core suppliers often prefer this approach, since it allows them to keep competitors in the dark about their products.

Over time, of course, information tends to diffuse, and competitors learn about each other's products. But this takes time, and in new markets competitors may remain ignorant about each other's products for quite some time.

...Given the lack of available information about competitors' products, I was surprised to find that nearly all of the suppliers are very confident that their product is the leader—and that it has a significant lead over competitors' offerings.

Reading many image sensor announcements, this is not that much different from the computer vision IP market.

Monday, November 17, 2014

NEC Develops High Sensitivity Half-THz Image Sensor

NEC announces a new pixel structure for Thz array sensors and improved the Minimum Detectable Power per pixel (MDP) at 0.5 - 0.6 THz frequency by 10x over NEC's existing product. NEC currently produces and markets a THz camera IRV-T0831 equipped with a 320X240-pixel array sensor. However, NEC's latest pixel enables it to develop and produce a 640X480-pixel array sensor which has four times the number of pixels than the current model. NEC has also developed a camera equipped with the array sensor, making it one of the world's largest number of pixels at a THz frequency band.

"NEC has been addressing the development of a highly sensitive real-time uncooled terahertz camera and the improvement in the sensitivity of terahertz array sensors since the development of a highly sensitive bolometer-type uncooled two-dimensional terahertz array sensor in April 2008," said Dr. Naoki Oda, Executive Engineer, Radio Application, Guidance and Electro-Optics Division, NEC. "Going forward, NEC will pursue the development and production of terahertz imaging equipment using the present results and contribute to a variety of fields such as non-destructive inspection, medicine/drug development, and illegal object detection."

To improve the sensitivity, NEC expands the length of the optical cavity structure from 3 - 4 μm of the conventional value to 15 μm, which is formed between a thick metallic layer (perfect reflector) on a readout integrated circuit and thin metallic layer (THz absorber) on a pixel:

Conventional pixel used in the existing THz camera IR/V-T0831
New pixel structure with a thick SiN layer to extend optical cavity length

Sony Announces Stacked Sensor with Phase AF Pixels

Sony announces the 21MP 1/2.4-inch Exmor RS IMX230 for smartphone cameras. It is said to be the industry's first CMOS sensor for smartphones to be equipped with an onboard image plane phase detection AF signal processing function supporting focus tracking of fast-moving subjects. Its HDR function now supports high-resolution still images and 4K video recording. The new CMOS image sensor will ship in April 2015.

Dedicated image plane phase detection AF pixels are used to calculate lens position and subject distance. Up to 192 AF points can be used. All calculations are instantaneously carried out by the stacked CMOS image sensor's internal image processing circuits:

Locations of 192 AF pixels

HDR function works by setting two different exposures and applying the appropriate signal processing. Through improved pixel placement and signal processing, this new HDR imaging function is now compatible with both video recording and, by popular demand, still image capture, the latter a feature that was not available previously. (video HDR was first announced in 2012. When using the HDR movie function, the effective pixel count is reduced to 1/4 of its original number.) HDR function is also compatible with 4K video recording.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Novatek Milestones

Novatek site confirms the internal image sensor design efforts and mentions a number of image sensor accomplishments over 2011-13 years:
  • Oct 2013:
    Introduce Novatek's 1/4" VGA CMOS Sensor with CVBS output
    Introduce Novatek's first 1/7" HD CMOS Sensor with MIPI Interface
  • Sep 2011:
    Introduce Novatek's first HD CMOS sensor
  • Feb 2011:
    Introduce Novatek's first CMOS sensor in 1.75um cell size technology

All these sensors are not mentioned among the current products, and their status is unknown.