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."

More about Mobileye 7.4MP Automotive Camera

SeekingAlpha: Mobileye Q4 2016 earnings call transcript has an interesting part about the company's 7.4MP autonomous driving camera platform:

Itay Michaeli - City analyst

...how important is the 2019 launch of the ultra-high resolution camera to automakers to be able to perform those Level 2 plus functions? And then if you could also comment on the hardware cost to the automaker of that camera relative to mono and trifocal today?

Amnon Shashua - CTO & Chairman

So, regarding the ultrahigh-definition camera, this is a 7.4 megapixel camera. 2019, we have programs that have a 1.7 megapixel camera. We have programs that have 2 megapixel cameras. These are parking cameras that are used also for autonomous driving, not only for parking. And we have the 7.4 megapixel, in many cases, it replaces the trifocal. So, we have a single mono camera with 120 degrees field view replacing three cameras. So, this particular camera is going to be more expensive. It’s not the imager that is so much more expensive, it is the lens. Lens is more expensive. So, it’s few – I can’t say exactly how much more expensive, but it is more expensive and this allows – so basically the ultrahigh-definition camera allows to replace the trifocal with a single monocular camera.

Thanks to DS for the link!

Omnivision Agrees to License Ziptronix Technology

BusinessWire: Tessera subsidiary Ziptronix reached an agreement with OmniVision that provides OmniVision with a license under Ziptronix’s patents. In addition, the outstanding litigation among Ziptronix, OmniVision, and TSMC has been dismissed.

We are pleased to have this matter resolved and to reach a license agreement with OmniVision, one of the leading image sensor suppliers in the world,” said Craig Mitchell, president of Invensas Corporation, a Tessera subsidiary. “The growing demand for enhanced imaging solutions for automotive, consumer, and mobile electronic devices continues to be a key driver for the adoption and proliferation of our ZiBond and DBI technologies.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Stuttgart University Proposes 3D Printed Microlens

Science Advances: University of Stuttgart, Germany, researchers propose to utilize a femtosecond laser-based 3D printer to print high precision multi-component microlens directly onto CMOS image sensor. Their paper "3D-printed eagle eye: Compound microlens system for foveated imaging" by Simon Thiele, Kathrin Arzenbacher, Timo Gissibl, Harald Giessen, and Alois M. Herkommer presents the new approach:

"We present a highly miniaturized camera, mimicking the natural vision of predators, by 3D-printing different multilens objectives directly onto a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor. Our system combines four printed doublet lenses with different focal lengths (equivalent to f = 31 to 123 mm for a 35-mm film) in a 2 × 2 arrangement to achieve a full field of view of 70° with an increasing angular resolution of up to 2 cycles/deg field of view in the center of the image. The footprint of the optics on the chip is below 300 um × 300 um, whereas their height is less than 200 um. Because the four lenses are printed in one single step without the necessity for any further assembling or alignment, this approach allows for fast design iterations and can lead to a plethora of different miniaturized multiaperture imaging systems with applications in fields such as endoscopy, optical metrology, optical sensing, surveillance drones, or security."

TetraVue Raises $10M for Automotive LiDAR

MarketWired: South California-based TetraVue closes its Series A funding at $10M, led by Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Nautilus Venture Partners, and joined by Samsung Catalyst Fund as well as Foxconn. The funding will enable TetraVue to bring its Ultra High Definition, Solid State Flash LIDAR to the autonomous car industry, and to be the leader in Vision for Things (VfT).

"TetraVue is unparalleled to any other existing technologies in the three-dimensional Flash LIDAR space," said Luis Llovera, Managing Director of Robert Bosch Venture Capital. "We see its technology as being key to the enhancement and development of the autonomous car industry, which will be the future of transportation as we know it."

TetraVue’s core technology differentiation is their patented “light slicer” technology, which uses time and distance measurements in order to find optical intensities using standard CMOS sensors. The company’s approach yields many benefits including higher reliability to meet automotive requirements, low latency, and ability to produce ultra-high resolution images for a wider range of distances at a lower cost.

TetraVue’s technology results in 2 million or more simultaneous distance measurements of ranges—greater than 200 meters in any weather conditions and utilizes orders of magnitude less power than competitors. This performance is optimal for the autonomous car industry, and TetraVue plans to miniaturize and commercialize its fully functioning prototype.

Picture of car hitting wall of cardboard boxes taken with Tetravue LIDAR

One of the recent TetraVue's patent applications, US20150296201 "Systems and method of high resolution three-dimensional imaging" by Paul S. Banks, explains TetraVue LiDAR operation:

ST Announces 3rd Generation ToF Sensor

ST releases its third-generation laser-ranging sensor based on its SPAD FlightSense technology. The new VL53L1 sensor adds for the first time, optical lenses to the module. This combination boosts core performance while introducing many new features including multi-target detection, cover-glass crosstalk immunity at long distance, and programmable multi-zone scanning. With a form factor of 4.9 x 2.5 x 1.56mm, the sensor module integrates a new lens system, a 940nm VCSEL light source, a processing core, and a SPAD photon detector.

The VL53L1 performs a full measurement operation in as little as 5ms, twice as fast as the earlier-generation devices, for high speed AF operation. It also has doubled the maximum ranging distance of ST ToF sensors to beyond 4.5 meters, ensuring it is well matched to the hyper-focal distance of widely used 21MP camera optics.

The new architecture can detect multiple targets within the scene and also allows manufacturers to sub-divide the SPAD sensing matrix into custom-defined zones. These small zones can then provide spatial ranging information that the customer application can use for dual-camera computation in stereoscopy as well as simple depth-map use cases.

The VL53L1 is in production now.

ST has already shipped hundreds of millions of Time-of-Flight sensors, which have been designed by OEMs into over 70 smartphone models as well as many other consumer devices,” said Eric Aussedat, General Manager of ST’s Imaging Division. “The third-generation FlightSense product uses its improved performance to support new applications, including human-presence detection, while continuing to improve sensor performance for existing use cases.