Saturday, February 25, 2017

Brillnics Presents its First Products

Japan and Taiwan-based startup Brillnics unveils its first products for security and surveillance applications: two new 1/2.7” 1080p color BSI CMOS sensors: BRV0200 (60fps) and BRV0201 (120fps) utilizing Brillnics patented H³DRTM technology.

We see customers expecting high imaging quality under extremely low light for various video applications. Collaborating with strategic foundry partner, Brillnics uses BSI technology featuring high sensitivity, high angular response, and low noise.”, said Dr. Shou-Gwo Wuu, CEO of Brillnics and former TSMC CIS group manager. “We are particularly excited about the introduction of single exposure HDR (SE HDR), which can significantly mitigate motion artifacts caused by moving objects. SE HDR allows the highest video fidelity in fast-moving scenes, such as in automotive applications.

In comparison with most common HDR approaches, including a logarithmic response pixel, a linear-logarithmic response pixel, a dual photodiode pixel, or a multiple exposure HDR (ME HDR) scheme, Brillnics adopts the multiple exposure HDR scheme and/or single exposure HDR scheme. The SE HDR mode obtains two data from a same pixel. One is a lower response and the other a higher response, of which integration times are identical with no timing shift, unlike the ME HDR. Linearization using the two data is then performed on-chip, yielding 16bit digital signal or 12bit compressed digital signal.

The high dynamic range of the BRV0200/0201 in SE HDR mode is made possible by its very high low-light sensitivity and very high full well capacity. The very high low-light sensitivity comes from its high QE and low readout noise floor. Also, the very high full well capacity has been realized in the close collaboration with the strategic foundry partner.

Product Highlights:
  • Process: BSI
  • Pixel Size: 3.0 um
  • Optical Format: 1/2.7”
  • Angular Response: 85% @ ±20°
  • Max Frame Rate: 120fps, 12bit (BRV0201)
  • Hybrid Modes HDR: MEHDR/SEHDR
  • SE HDR: Dual conversion gain readout in single exposure time
  • SE HDR >85dB and ME HDR 120dB
  • SNRmax: 44dB
  • Power consumption: typ. 178mW at 60fps, 12bit

Friday, February 24, 2017

Invisage Explains its 1.1um Pixel Global Shutter Operation

Invisage presented a paper "Device design for global shutter operation in a 1.1-μm pixel image sensor and its application to near infrared sensing" by Zach M. Beiley, Robin Cheung, Erin F. Hanelt, Emanuele Mandelli, Jet Meitzner, Jae Park, Andras Pattantyus-Abraham, and Edward H. Sargent at SPIE Physics and Simulation of Optoelectronic Devices XXV Conference held on Jan. 30-Feb. 2 in San Francisco.

The global shutter operation is based on QuantumFilm QE dependence on the bias voltage:

Waymo Accuses Uber-acquired Otto in Stealing LiDAR Secrets

Bloomberg: It took Alphabet’s Waymo seven years to design and build a LiDAR for its self-driving cars. Uber-acquired Otto startup allegedly did it in nine months. Waymo claims in a lawsuit that its former employees stole the designs and technology and started a new company. Waymo says:

"One of the most powerful parts of our self-driving technology is our custom-built LiDAR — or “Light Detection and Ranging.” LiDAR is critical to detecting and measuring the shape, speed and movement of objects like cyclists, vehicles and pedestrians.

Hundreds of Waymo engineers have spent thousands of hours, and our company has invested millions of dollars to design a highly specialized and unique LiDAR system. Waymo engineers have driven down the cost of LiDAR dramatically even as we’ve improved the quality and reliability of its performance. The configuration and specifications of our LiDAR sensors are unique to Waymo. Misappropriating this technology is akin to stealing a secret recipe from a beverage company.

In 2016, Uber bought a six-month old startup called Otto and appointed its founder (a former employee on our self-driving car project) as its head of self-driving technology. At the time, it was reported that Otto’s LiDAR sensor was one of the key reasons Uber acquired the company.

Recently, we received an unexpected email. One of our suppliers specializing in LiDAR components sent us an attachment (apparently inadvertently) of machine drawings of what was purported to be Uber’s LiDAR circuit board — except its design bore a striking resemblance to Waymo’s unique LiDAR design.

We found that six weeks before his resignation this former employee, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded over 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for Waymo’s various hardware systems, including designs of Waymo’s LiDAR and circuit board. To gain access to Waymo’s design server, Mr. Levandowski searched for and installed specialized software onto his company-issued laptop. Once inside, he downloaded 9.7 GB of Waymo’s highly confidential files and trade secrets, including blueprints, design files and testing documentation. Then he connected an external drive to the laptop. Mr. Levandowski then wiped and reformatted the laptop in an attempt to erase forensic fingerprints.

Beyond Mr. Levandowki’s actions, we discovered that other former Waymo employees, now at Otto and Uber, downloaded additional highly confidential information pertaining to our custom-built LiDAR including supplier lists, manufacturing details and statements of work with highly technical information.

No Lens is Needed to See Simple Images

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA, researches show that the simple 32x32 images can be seen by a bare image sensor with no lens. The open-access paper "Lensless Photography with only an image sensor" by Ganghun Kim, Kyle Isaacson, Racheal Palmer, and Rajesh Menon has been published in From the abstract:

"Photography usually requires optics in conjunction with a recording device (an image sensor). Eliminating the optics could lead to new form factors for cameras. Here, we report a simple demonstration of imaging using a bare CMOS sensor that utilizes computation. The technique relies on the space variant point-spread functions resulting from the interaction of a point source in the field of view with the image sensor. These space-variant point-spread functions are combined with a reconstruction algorithm in order to image simple objects displayed on a discrete LED array as well as on an LCD screen. We extended the approach to video imaging at the native frame rate of the sensor. Finally, we performed experiments to analyze the parametric impact of the object distance. Improving the sensor designs and reconstruction algorithms can lead to useful cameras without optics."

Example images taken with the VGA sensor. The left column shows
the objects displayed on the LED matrix. The 2nd column shows the raw
sensor images. The 3rd column shows the reconstructed images before
any processing. The right column shows the reconstructed images after
binary thresholding.

Panasonic to Commercialize Heartrate Rate Extraction from Video

Nikkei: Panasonic exhibits a technology to accurately measure the heart rate of a person on video.The companys Contactless Vital Sensing utilizes the change of skin's light reflectance caused by blood. The reflectance changes with the contraction of blood vessels caused by heartbeat.

Panasonic aims to commercialize the technology in 2018 in such applications as sports, checking the stress of employees in call centers, preventing car drivers from falling asleep, etc.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Samsung Mobile Processor Supports 4K 120fps Video, 28MP Cameras

Samsung announces its latest application processor (AP), the Exynos 9 Series 8895, manufactured in 10nm FinFET process. Its imaging, video, and machine vision features are rather impressive:

"It supports recording and playback of video contents at maximum resolution of 4K UHD at 120fps with the latest video codec including HEVC(H.265), H.264 and VP9.

[Exynos 8895] ISP supports high resolution up to 28MP for each rear and front camera with advanced features such as Smart WDR and PDAF. Exynos 8895 features dual ISP that consists of one ISP dedicated for high quality and the other for low power. Thus, it enables various combination of dual camera scenario for DSLR-like photography experience while consuming very low power.

Exynos 8895 features VPU (Vision Processing Unit) which is designed for machine vision technology. This technology improves the recognition of an item or its movements by analyzing the visual information coming through the camera. Furthermore, it enables advanced features such as corner detection that is frequently used in motion detection, image registration, video tracking and object recognition.

Tokyo University and Sony Vision Chip Demo

Tokyo University Ishikawa Watanabe Lab publishes a second demo of its vision chip based on Sony stacked sensor technology:

Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 VR Development Kit Includes 4 Cameras

PRNewswire: Qualcomm introduces a new VR development kit (VRDK) based on Snapdragon 835 mobile platform. The kit includes 4 cameras:

  • Six degrees of freedom (6DoF) Motion Tracking: Two monochromatic, stereo- 1MP (1280x800) cameras with fish-eye lenses for each
  • Eye Tracking: Two monochromatic VGA global shutter cameras with active depth sensing

Older, Snapdragon 820-based VRDK

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tessera Becomes Xperi

BusinessWire: Tessera is changing its name to Xperi Corporation (“Xperi”) and its Nasdaq ticker symbol to XPER, effective tomorrow, February 23. This change, which also includes a new corporate logo and brand platform, is a reflection of the company’s expanded capabilities, continued technological innovation and refined vision.

Changing our name to Xperi is an incredible moment in our history,” said Tom Lacey, CEO of Tessera Holding Corporation. “Xperi represents the combination of DTS, FotoNation, Invensas and Tessera – world-class companies dedicated to creating solutions that enable extraordinary experiences for people around the world. Our new logo and brand identity convey the unlimited possibilities of what our team of approximately 700 employees can create to truly impact the human experience. We are constantly inspired by how people use our technologies in their lives, and that drives us to continue generating ideas and innovation. We cannot wait to show the world what’s next.

OmniVision and Corephotonics Dual-Camera Zoom Reference Design for Smartphones

PRNewswire: OmniVision announces its collaboration with dual-camera technology company Corephotonics in producing a new dual-camera zoom reference design for mobile devices. Combining OmniVision's OV12A10 and OV13880 image sensors with Corephotonics' proprietary zoom and Bokeh algorithms, the reference design brings optical zoom capabilities to smartphone camera applications.

The Corephotonics algorithms fuse the images from the wide-angle cameras and telephoto cameras to deliver optical zoom, increase resolution, reduce SNR and enable smoother video transitions. OmniVision's OV12A10 and OV13880 sensors benefits include:
  • Slim form factor enabled by reduced module height
  • PureCel Plus 1.25um large pixel and 1.0um small pixel
  • Dual-camera sync: master/slave capability to switch between sensors during zoom operation
  • Low power using unique toggle mode to extend phone battery life

"Corephotonics is widely regarded as a world leader in dual-camera technology," said Will Foote, senior partnership manager, OmniVision. "The rapid expansion of the dual-camera smartphone market gives us the perfect opportunity to combine our companies' expertise. We are pleased to introduce our first joint reference design, and are excited about many more future collaborations based on OmniVision sensors and Corephotonics' algorithm IP."