Saturday, August 27, 2016

Huawei P9 Dual Camera Reverse Engineering, More

Systemplus publishes a reverse engineering report on the dual camera module extracted from Huawei P9 smartphone:

"The P9 camera module, with dimensions of 18 x 9.2 x 5.1mm, is equipped with two sub-modules each including a Sony CIS, a closed loop voice coil motor (VCM) and a 6-element lens. Doubling the number of cameras gives more light, vivid colors and crisper details. Moreover, it compensates for the fact that the module is provided without optical image stabilization (OIS). The CISs are assembled on a copper metal core 4-layer PCB using a wire bonding process. An external image processor chip is present on the phone’s printed circuit board (PCB)."


Another Systemplus report talks about I3system's Thermal Expert camera for smartphones:

"The thermal camera uses a new 17┬Ám pixel design from I3system. The I3BOL384_17A microbolometer features 384 x 288 pixel resolution, 6 times the resolution of the FLIR Lepton 3. The sensor technology in the I3system component is a titanium oxide microbolometer, technology which is not covered by Honeywell patents. The I3BOL384_17A is the consumer version of a military microbolometer."

Friday, August 26, 2016

Race to Self-Driving Car Accelerates

FoxNews: US startup Nutonomy managed to beat Uber starting its autonomous taxi trial in Singapore. Currently, their autonomous fleet has just 6 Mitsubishi i-MiEv electric cars, with the planned full launch of the service in 2018.



Meanwhile, Electronics Weekly published the details on Uber's acquisition of Otto, a startup retrofitting tracks with self-driving equipment. The 6-month old startup based in a garage south of Market Street in San Francisco was acquired for $680M plus 20% of any profits it makes from trucking. Otto has retrofitted five trucks so far.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Uncooled IR Imaging Market Report

Yole Developpement publishes report "Uncooled IR imaging industry: the market is taking off." Few quotes:

After a strong downturn in 2012 and 2013 due to the collapse of the military market, the uncooled IR imaging industry came back into a growth phase in 2014 and 2015. Today, the infrared business is still driven by commercial markets, which will continue to expand quickly, with shipments growing at 16.8% CAGR to account for 92% of the overall market by 2021. The commercial market is divided into three major sub-segments:

  • Thermography, which will account for 521,000 units in 2021. In 2015, thermography was still by far the main commercial market in terms of both value and shipments. “Since 2013, Fluke and FLIR have introduced several new products with lower pricing, which has boosted sales,” comments Dr Mounier. The trend towards lower-end thermography cameras has also prompted the introduction of low-resolution technologies such as pyroelectric sensors, thermopiles, and thermodiodes.
  • From its side, the automotive market segment will account for 284,000 units by 2021, according to Yole’s analysts. Automotive market shipments grew 15% in 2015, although the growth rate was down from 30% in 2014. Total automotive sales, including OEM and aftermarket, accounted for less than 100,000 units in 2015, generating US$61 million, which reflects strong price erosion.
  • Ultimately, surveillance and security applications will account for 248,000 units in 2021. Surveillance market shipments grew 32% in 2015 due to price erosion and the growing number of suppliers.
Until recently, thermal cameras have primarily been used in high-end surveillance for critical and government infrastructure. However, new municipal and commercial applications with lower price points are now appearing, including traffic, parking, power stations and photovoltaic plants.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Graphene Photodetectors Review

Open-access Sensors journal publishes a paper "Towards a Graphene-Based Low Intensity Photon Counting Photodetector" by Jamie O. D. Williams, Jack A. Alexander-Webber, Jon S. Lapington, Mervyn Roy, Ian B. Hutchinson, Abhay A. Sagade, Marie-Blandine Martin, Philipp Braeuninger-Weimer, Andrea Cabrero-Vilatela, Ruizhi Wang, Andrea De Luca, Florin Udrea, and Stephan Hofmann from University of Leicester and University of Cambridge, UK. The paper reviews graphene photodetecting approaches for visible, Terahertz and X-ray bands.


"The future applications of single photon counting photodetectors requires high detection efficiency with wavelength specificity, good temporal resolution and low dark counts. Graphene’s high mobility, tunable band gap (in bilayer graphene), strong dependence of conductivity on electric field, and other properties make it particularly suitable for this application. Here graphene acts as an (indirect) photoconductor with a high gain of transconductance due to the sharp field."

Microsoft Talks About Hololens Vision Processing

EETimes: Microsoft says that HoloLens processing unit (HPU) fuses input from five cameras, a depth sensor and motion sensor, compacting and sending it to the Intel SoC. It also recognizes gestures and maps environments including multiple rooms. The TSMC 28nm HPU packs 24 Tensilica DSP cores and 8MB cache into a 12x12mm package with 65M transistors. A GByte of LPDDR3 is included in the HPU’s package.

HPU die

Mobileye and Delphi Partnership to Invest Hundreds of Million of Dollars into Self Driving Technology

SeekingAlpha transcript on Mobileye and Delphi partnership announcement has a statement that the two companies invest significant funds to develop self-driving car technology:

"When you think about what is needed to bring the Level 4/5 autonomy to series production, there is sensing – interpreting sensing on one hand, building an environmental model where all the moving objects and obstacles and all the path and symmetric meaning, but there is another component to it, which is being able to merge into traffic in a way that mimics human driving behavior. And there is machine intelligence to be ported into this. And there is a synergy between Delphi’s core IT in that area and Mobileye's core IT in that area and together we can bring a new class of machine intelligence into this project.

...as you can imagine just given the level of technology required and the amount of integration, on a combined basis [our investment] is hundreds of millions of dollars.
"

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

TowerJazz and TPSCo Announce Stacked Deep PD Technology

GlobeNewsWire: TowerJazz and TowerJazz Panasonic Semiconductor Co. (TPSCo) announce a new state of the art CIS process based on stacked deep PD, allowing customers to achieve very high NIR sensitivity and realize extremely low cross-talk while keeping low dark current characteristics, using small pixels and high resolution.

This solution targets 3D gesture recognition and gesture control for the consumer, security, automotive and industrial sensors markets. NIR is becoming more and more popular in 3D gesture recognition applications and in automotive active vision applications for better visibility in harsh weather conditions. These ToF applications are using a NIR light source and ToF, creating a 3D image.

Current solutions generally use a thick epi on p-type substrate to achieve high sensitivity, but this creates high cross talk (low resolution) and high dark current values. The novel pixel structure developed by TowerJazz and TPSCo has a stacked deep photodiode, providing both high sensitivity and low cross talk at NIR. This allows very low dark current values, especially at elevated temperatures, required in the automotive market.

The tremendously fast growth of 3D gesture application in the consumer market such as PC and mobile as well as in the automotive area will allow us to attract many customers with this technology that is the best the market has to offer,” said Avi Strum, SVP and GM, CMOS Image Sensor Business Unit, TowerJazz.

The process was developed on TPSCo’s 65nm CIS technology on 300mm wafers in its Uozu, Japan fab and is already in production for leading edge automotive and security sensors. It will also be available for new designs in TPSCo’s 110nm fab in Arai, Japan and in TowerJazz’s 180nm fab in Migdal Haemek, Israel.

Monday, August 22, 2016

2016 Harvest Imaging Forum

Agenda of 2016 Harvest Imaging Forum has been published. The Forum is devoted to "Robustness of CMOS Technology and Circuitry outside the Imaging Core : integrity, variability, reliability." The 2016 Harvest Imaging forum is split into two parts, divided over two days:
  1. As all CMOS robustness topics are related to the basic CMOS devices and their operation, an in-depth knowledge of the most important fundamentals of CMOS physics, CMOS device and circuit operation, fabrication and design are necessary to ease the understanding of the robustness topics. For that reason time the first part of the forum will concentrate on the topics that have to do with CMOS physics, devices, circuits, fabrication and design, such as:

    CMOS device physics including the basic MOS device operation of nMOS and pMOS transistors, transistor current expression, the MOS diode and the MOS capacitor, the temperature dependence of the devices, the effect of the continuous scaling of CMOS technology and its problems, such as mobility reductions and leakage mechanisms,

    CMOS process technology including the basic CMOS process flow, advanced planar and FinFET technologies,

    CMOS circuit design, including basic logic gates, cell libraries, design flow and terminology.

  2. The robustness of advanced CMOS integrated circuits. The second part of the forum includes a lot of CMOS problems that can show up as artefacts in the final captured image. Most of the imaging engineers are familiar with the effects on a display or hard-copy, but what can be root cause of the image quality problems? Topics that will be discussed in the forum are:

    Signal integrity issues such as cross-talk, signal propagation, interference between ICs, current peaks, supply noise, substrate and ground bounce, on-chip decoupling capacitors and design consequences,

    Variability issues including difference between random variations and systematic variations, causes of process parameter spread, proximity effects, random dopant fluctuations, transistor matching and design consequences

    Reliability issues and topics such as electro-migration, latch-up, hot-carrier effects, NBTI, soft-errors (by cosmic rays and alpha-particles), electro-static discharge, etc.

The 2016 Harvest Imaging Forum will include a copy of: “Nanometer CMOS ICs, from Basics to ASICs” (Springer 2016) and “Bits on Chips” (Springer, 2016), as well as a hard copy of all sheets presented.

Hikvision Secures $6b Credit Lines

China-based surveillance camera maker Hikvision secures a credit facility of RMB ¥20b (more than USD $3b) with Export-Import Bank of China. In November 2015, Hikvision secured another USD $3b line of credit with China Development Bank.

So large credit lines from China state-owned banks reportedly raise some concerns in the industry that Hikvision gets an unfair advantage over its competitors.

The company's 2015 revenues were USD $3.88b, representing a YoY growth rate of 47%. Hikvision also has liquid funds available in the amount of RMB ¥11.8b (more than USD $1.78b). Hikvision is the world’s largest provider of video surveillance products and solutions for the fifth consecutive year, and the No. 1 global provider of IP cameras, according to IHS Research.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

High Speed Image Sensor Applications

Tokyo University Ishikawa Watanabe Lab publishes a couple of Youtube video exploring high speed image sensor applications. "High-speed 3D Sensing with Three-view Geometry Using a Segmented Pattern" demos 1000fps 3D camera:



"High-Speed Image Rotator for Blur-Canceling Roll Camera" demos rotation-compensating camera: