Sunday, August 20, 2017

Yole and WCP Smartphone Depth Sensing Report

Yole Developpement and Woodside Capital Partners publish "Smartphone Depth Sensing" report dated by July 2017. Few slides from the review:

Entry Level Smartphone SoCs Support Dual Camera

PRNewsWire: Spreadtrum announces mass production of its LTE SoC platforms: SC9853I manufactured in Intel's 14nm foundry process with Octa-core 64-bit Intel Airmont processor; and Spreadtrum SC9850 series. Both SC9853I and SC9850 series emphasize dual-camera processing capability. Both include a built-in 3DNR to improve night shooting and features like refocusing, real-time face beauty, 3D modeling and AR. SC9853I supports 16MP dual camera, while SC9850 supports 13MP dual configuration.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sony Proposes BCMD with Reduced Dark Current

Sony patent application US20170229493 "Pixel circuit and imaging apparatus" by Kouichi Harada and Toshiyuki Nishihara proposes dark current reduction in bulk charge modulated device (BCMD).

"...the above image sensor needs to read 1000 times in one frame for example, and has problems of increase in read voltage and increase in read time. Also, as the number of reads per frame increases, dark current of the FD increases proportionally. As a result, the dark current of the FD becomes the main component of the dark current of the pixel. The dark current of the FD is unable to be reduced easily, and thus even if the conversion efficiency can be set to 600 μV/e−, the accuracy of detecting one photon is reduced. If there is no FD, the accuracy of detecting one photon is improved.

...According to the present technology, it is possible to obtain an excellent effect that the dark current of the FD in the image sensor is eliminated, and that the conversion efficiency of converting the electric charge to a voltage can be improved.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

TrinamiX 3D Sensor Paper

BASF spinoff Trimamix publishes an paper "Focus-Induced Photoresponse: a novel optoelectronic distance measurement technique" by Oili Pekkola, Christoph Lungenschmied, Peter Fejes, Anke Handreck, Wilfried Hermes, Stephan Irle, Christian Lennartz, Christian Schildknecht, Peter Schillen, Patrick Schindler, Robert Send, Sebastian Valouch, Erwin Thiel, and Ingmar Bruder.

"Here we introduce Focus-Induced Photoresponse (FIP), a novel method to measure distances. In a FIP-based system, distance is determined by using the analog photoresponse of a single pixel sensor. This means that the advantages of high-density pixelation and high-speed response are not necessary or even relevant for the FIP technique. High resolution can be achieved without the limitations of pixel size, and detectors selected for a FIP system can be orders of magnitude slower than those required by ToF based ones. A system based on FIP does not require advanced sensor manufacturing processes to function, making adoption of unusual sensors more economically feasible.

In the FIP technique, a light source is imaged onto the photodetector by a lens. The size of its image depends on the position of the detector with respect to the focused image plane. FIP exploits the nonlinearly irradiance-dependent photoresponse of semiconductor devices. This means that the signal of a photodetector not only depends on the incident radiant power, but also on its density on the sensor area, the irradiance. This phenomenon will cause the output of the detector to change when the same amount of light is focused or defocused on it. This is what we call the FIP effect.

Qualcomm on VR Motion Tracking Setup

Qualcomm presentation "On-device motion tracking for immersive mobile VR" discusses 4-camera setup in the company's VR headset:

First Report on CIS Reproducibility, Variability and Reliability

Albert Theuwissen releases the first report on "Reproducibility, Variability and Reliability of CIS" in a 5-year series. The 175-page report contains 118 figures and 98 tables with data on QE, FPN, DSNU, Qsat, DR, SNR, DC, and more.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Coolpad CEO Quantifies Dual Camera Advantages

Coolpad, one of the large China-based smartphone makers that uses 13MP monochrome + 13MP RGB dual camera in its devices, says about the benefits of that configuration:

"The two lenses may look the same, but they have very different functions. One shoots in RGB to produce a color image, while the other takes care of the monochrome images. The monochrome lens brings out the detail, and engage more light than the RGB lens when in low-light condition, which takes care of the colors. The Dual camera 2.0 technology in Cool Dual actually enhanced the overall clarity of the image by 20%, help reduce image noise by 8% and improved brightness by 20%. “With these, we believe the real dual 13MP cameras brings us smart framing and the 6P lens gives customers the best quality of pictures”, said Jeff Liu, Coolpad Group CEO."

Digitimes on Automotive LiDAR Adoption

Digitimes Research comes up with its analysis of LiDAR adoption in the car industry, forecasting first LiDAR-equipped production cars appearing this year:

"...Audi will take the initiative to launch car models equipped with LiDAR sensors in 2017 and Mercedes Benz, Cadillac, Ford and Volvo are expected to follow suit in 2018-2019...

...only one million LiDAR sensors worth US$200 million will be shipped globally in 2019. However, global shipment value for LiDAR sensors will fast grow to US$500 million in 2024 along with decreasing cost and increasing adoption.

For Level 2 self-driving... LiDAR sensors are required to detect objects as far as 100-150 meters ahead. For Level 3, the required range is 200-300 meters

...Velodyne LiDAR and Quanergy Systems, and Germany-based Ibeo Automotive Systems are the main vendors globally of LiDAR sensors, with the former two focusing on solid-state models to reduce LiDAR sensor sizes.

Qualcomm Unveils Structured Light Depth-Sensing Platform

Qualcomm announces an expansion to the Qualcomm Spectra Module Program to incorporate a biometric authentication and high-resolution depth sensing for a broad range of mobile devices and head mounted displays (HMD). This module program is built on the 2nd generation Spectra embedded ISP family.

Now, the camera module program is being expanded to include new camera modules capable of utilizing active sensing for biometric authentication, and structured light for a variety of computer vision applications that require real-time, dense depth map generation and segmentation.

The low-power, high-performance motion tracking capabilities of the Qualcomm Spectra ISP, in addition to optimized simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) algorithms, are designed to support new extended reality (XR) use cases for VR and AR applications that require SLAM.

It also features multi-frame noise reduction for superior photographic quality, along with hardware-accelerated motion compensated temporal filtering (MCTF), and inline electronic image stabilization (EIS) for superior camcorder-like video quality.

The Spectra family of ISPs and new Spectra camera modules are expected to be part of the next flagship Snapdragon Mobile Platform.

Qualcomm Emerging Vision Technologies presentation gives some use cases for its 3D depth sensing module.

Qualcomm also publishes a Youtube demo if its structured light depth sensing module:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Pinnacle Introduces HDR ISP Core

Pinnacle Imaging Systems launches Denali-MC HDR ISP IP core said to preserve a scene’s color fidelity and full contrast range throughout the tone mapping process, all without producing halos, color shifts, and undesired motion artifacts.

Denali-MC provides a 16-bit data path capable of producing 100 dB or 16-EV steps of dynamic range. Denali-MC HDR IP completely eliminates halo artifacts and color shifts, and mitigates the ghost artifacts and transition noise often seen when merging multiple exposures. This allows Denali-MC to capture up to four exposure frames from 1080p video at 120 fps, while merging and tone mapping at 30 fps in real time. For applications requiring faster output frame rates, Denali-MC also supports a two frame merge mode exporting at 60 fps. Furthermore, Denali-MC can support up to 29 different CMOS sensors, including 9 Aptina/ON Semi, 6 Omnivision and 11 Sony sensors, and 12 different pixel-level gain and frame-set HDR methods, and is said to be easily ported to the most widely-used logic platforms.

HDR-Specific Features:
  • Advanced motion compensation algorithms virtually eliminate HDR merge artifacts and transition noise
  • Proprietary Locally Adaptive Tone Mapping technology preserves color fidelity through the entire tonal range without creating halo artifacts or color shifts
  • Automatic EV bracketing
  • Automatic or manual contrast adaptation for global or local video correction
  • React concurrent still frame and video capture feature, non-destructively extracts four source LDR Bayer images, merged Bayer HDR, tone mapped Bayer or HDMI RGB still frames without interrupting video
  • Ability to capture separate HDR and tone mapped output video streams concurrently (ideal for ADAS applications)
  • Two or four frame multiple exposure merge (with Sony IMX290 implementation)
  • HDR + Low illumination capabilities with Sony IMX290 sensor enable 24/7 round the clock video capture capabilities for any contrast and lighting condition

At Fairchild Imaging, we have been very impressed with the Denali-MC ISP state of the art locally adaptive tone mapping (LATM) functionality,” said Vern Klein, Director of Sales and Marketing Fairchild Imaging. “I’ve seen first-hand how they can make a great sensor perform even better in its native WDR mode. Camera manufacturers will benefit from this technology, which provides high quality HDR functionality without requiring companion chips or additional hardware cost to support the algorithms.

Pinnacle’s new Denali-MC HDR ISP is a significant achievement addressing HDR video requirements in surveillance, monocular camera automotive markets and machine learning with its customization, artifact compensation, color accuracy and quantifiable high dynamic range of 100 dB,” said Paul Gallagher, image sensor industry veteran and futurist. “Camera system developers in these markets would benefit from utilizing these attributes of the Denali-MC ISP as a standalone ISP or integrate Pinnacle’s HDR IP blocks within their existing ISP.

Pinnacle also publishes a video demo of its HDR capabilities (short version, long version):