Sunday, December 17, 2017

Velodyne LiDAR Lecture

In a rare public lecture, Velodyne explains its view on the automotive LiDAR history and market:

Saturday, December 16, 2017

3D Imaging News

ArsTechnica: Google announces that its AR project Tango with PMD ToF camera inside is officially shut down. ArsTechnica states the reasons for the discontinuation:

"Even with all the extra hardware, Tango's tracking was never that great. The constant drifting and other tracking errors made some of the coolest apps, like a measuring tape, unreliable for even small measurements. One amazing app, called "Matterport Scenes," turned the phone into a handheld 3D scanner, but the tracking errors meant your scans were never great at picking up detail. The app also absolutely crushed the Tango hardware and, after a few minutes of scanning things, would close with an out-of-memory error. Even games never really took off on the platform thanks to the low install base."

South China Morning Post reports that Chinese woman has been offered a refund after Apple Face ID allowed a colleague to unlock her iPhone X:

Meanwhile, a number of companies in China announce smartphones with Face Unlock: Vkworld S8, Vernee X and many others.

Friday, December 15, 2017

LiDAR News: Tetravue, Diabotics

IEEE Spectrum publishes an article "TetraVue Says Its Lidar Will Dominate the Robocar Business." The reason for domination is said to be the high spatial resolution - 2MP in the current Tetravue design:

“We put an optical encoder between the lens and the image sensor, and it puts a time stamp on photons as they come in, so we can extract range information,” says Hal Zarem, chief executive of TetraVue.

That optical method has the advantage of scalability, which is why TetraVue’s system boasts 2 megapixels. And because the 100-nanosecond-long flashes repeat at a rate of 30 hertz, the lidar provides 60 million bits of data per second. That’s high-definition, full motion video.

“Because you get standard video as well as lidar for each pixel, you don’t have to figure which object the photon came from—it’s inherently fused in the camera,” says Zarem.

No other lidars will be needed, he adds. Translation: Say goodbye to all the other lidar companies you’ve heard about—Velodyne, for example. As for the other sensors, well, radars will survive, as will a few cameras to fill secondary roles such as showing what’s behind the car when you back up.

Tetravue official PR is here. The Tetravue LiDAR operation is explained here. TrafficTechnologyToday publishes a couple of Tetravue slides:

BusinessWire: Diabotics ports its LiDAR image processing software to Renesas R-Car platform:

"LiDAR processing today requires an efficient processing platform and advanced embedded software. By combining Renesas’ high-performance image processing, low-power automotive R-Car system-on-chip (SoC) with Dibotics’ 3D simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technology, the companies deliver a SLAM on Chip™ (Note 1). The SLAM on Chip implements 3D SLAM processing on a SoC, a function that used to require a high-performance PC. It also realizes 3D mapping with LiDAR data only, eliminating the need to use inertial measurement units (IMUs) and global positioning system (GPS) data. The collaboration enables a real-time 3D mapping system with low power consumption and high-level functional safety in automotive systems.

Unlike existing approaches, Dibotics’ Augmented LiDAR™ software realizes 3D SLAM technology that only requires data from the LiDAR sensor to achieve 3D mapping. It does not require additional input from IMUs, GPS, or wheel encoders, which eliminates extra integration efforts, lowers bill-of-material (BOM) costs and simplifies development. In addition, the software realizes point-wise classification (Note 3), detection and tracking of shape, speed, and trajectory of moving objects, and Multi-LiDAR fusion.

Meanwhile, Velodyne publishes a visionary article "Six Gifts LiDAR Can Give to the World" mostly prizing the company products. And Panasonic presents a self-driving LiDAR-powered fridge, as shown in Tech Insider video:

EETimes Interviews ams CEO

EETimes Junko Yoshida publishes her talk with Ams CEO Alexander Everke talking about the company's new focus on sensing and 3D imaging. Few quotes:

"Ams is focused on acquiring technologies, not the revenue.

Everke is enthusiastic about Ams’ 3D adventure. He called 3D sensing “one of the mega trends of our industry that will drive the market over the next 10 years.” In smartphones, industry 4.0, automotive and emerging medical applications, the imaging world is rapidly transitioning from capturing 2D information to 3D, said the Ams CEO.

With Heptagon, Ams is adding ToF sensors. Ams’ Heptagon acquisition is considered pivotal for the company’s future growth. Heptagon assets are helping to turn Ams into “a very interesting wafer level optical packing company.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Research In China View on the Industry

ResearchInChina: Global CCM market was worth USD16.611b in 2015, a year-on-year rise of 3.8% from 2014, the slowest rate since 2010. The market fell modestly in 2016 due to a drop in shipments of Apple phones that carry CCM with the highest unit price. The market experienced a big rebound in 2017 driven by dual camera, growing by 4.3% to USD17.232b, and is expected to attain USD19.134b in 2021.

CCM is composed of Lens, VCM, IRCF, CIS, DSP and FPC. Among them, CIS, Lens and VCM have the highest value. In the mainstream 13MP camera module, for example, CIS, Lens and VCM make up about 40.6%, 14.3% and 11.3% of total costs, respectively.

CIS: Global CIS market size approximated USD10.516b in 2016, up 5.6% from a year ago, and is expected to grow 4.0% in 2017 and hit USD12.621b in 2021. Sony is an undisputed leader in the market with a market share of about 42% in 2016, followed by Samsung (18%), OmniVision (12%), ON Semi (6%) and Panasonic (3%). The top 3 companies market share was 73% and the top 5 were 82% in 2016. Particularly, almost all 13MP-above products are made by first three vendors, indicating a high market concentration, a trend that is growing.

Optical Lens: Global shipments of lens (front and rear) totaled 3.49 billion pieces in 2016, a year-on-year rise of 7.9%, including 1.64 billion 5P-above lenses, a 19.7% increase from a year ago, far higher than the growth rate of the industry, compared with a continued fall in shipments of 5P-below lens. The world’s shipments of optical lens are expected to reach 3.763 billion pieces in 2021, including 2.728 billion 5P-above lenses, representing a 72.5% market share. Taiwanese LARGAN Precision, a behemoth in the market, shipped 1.15 billion lenses with a market share of 32.9% in 2016. It is expected that, along with hot sales of new-generation iPhone and continuous upgrading of mobile phone lens, LARGAN Precision will seize 34.3% by market share and 16.4% by shipments.

VCM: Global demand for mobile phone VCM was 1.49 billion pieces in 2016 and will climb to 3.2 billion pieces in 2021 at a CAGR of 17.1%, Hundreds of VCM producers are primarily divided into Japanese ones (Alps, Mitsumi Electric, TDK), South Korean ones (Samsung Electric, JAHWA, Hysonic and LG) and Chinese ones (New Shicoh Motor, B.L. Electronics, Hozel Electronics, and Liaoning Zhonglan Electronic Technology). Japanese and South Korean players have advanced technologies and mature processes. As Chinese technology and process for VCM advance, local VCM enterprises, with advantages in price and services, have become more competitive and are expected to break monopoly of Japanese and South Korean counterparts.

Invensas Completes DBI Technology Transfer to DALSA

BusinessWire: Invensas, a subsidiary of Xperi, announces the successful technology transfer of its Direct Bond Interconnect (DBI) to Teledyne DALSA. This capability enables Teledyne DALSA to deliver next-generation image sensors to customers in the automotive, IoT and consumer electronics markets. Invensas and Teledyne DALSA announced the signing of a development license in February 2017.

In partnership with Invensas, we have successfully completed the transfer of its revolutionary DBI technology to our manufacturing facilities in Bromont,” said Edwin Roks, president of Teledyne DALSA. “We are now ready to offer this enabling platform as part of our foundry services to customers, including our own business lines, seeking smaller, higher performance and more reliable MEMS and imaging solutions.

Sunny Optics Officially Licenses ImmerVision Panomorph Lens

BusinessWire: ImmerVision, developer of exclusive and patented panomorph wide-angle imaging technology, announces that Sunny Optics has licensed panomorph lens technology for global production, and will deliver its first small form-factor panomorph high-resolution super-wide-angle lenses for smartphones and mobile devices in Q1 2018.

ON Semi Proposes CIS Technology for Analog Signal Processing

ON Semi patent application US20170350756 "Charge packet signal processing using pinned photodiode devices" by Roger Panicacci proposes using full charge transfer devices for a generic analog signal processing:

"It would... be desirable to provide improved signal processing circuitry without reliance on conventional high performance capacitors that dissipate power to support charge mixing or dissipate power to support switched capacitor circuit topologies.

Embodiments of the present invention relate to signal processing circuitry configured to transfer charge packets having an adjustable size to a circuit node. Adjustable size charge packets may originate at pinned photodiode structures. Adjustable size charge packets may be transferred to circuit nodes that provide a reference voltage for a comparator in a signal processing circuit such as an ADC.

Examples include 1st and 2nd order sigma-delta loops below:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

SensL 100m Ranging Demo

SensL demos a 100m range detection with its SiPM sensor:


University at Buffalo paper "ABC: Enabling Smartphone Authentication with Built-in Camera" by Kui Ren, Zhongjie Ba, Sixu Piao, Dimitrios Koutsonikolas, Aziz Mohaisen, and Xinwen Fu proposes to use PRNU to securely identify a smartphone:

"First observed in conventional digital cameras, PRNU analysis is common in digital forensic science. For example, it can help settle copyright lawsuits involving photographs.

But it hasn’t been applied to cybersecurity — despite the ubiquity of smartphones — because extracting it had required analyzing 50 photos taken by a camera, and experts though that customers wouldn’t be willing to supply that many photos. Plus, savvy cybercriminals can fake the pattern by analyzing images taken with a smartphone that victims post on unsecured websites.

The study addresses how each of these challenges can be overcome.

Compared to a conventional digital camera, the image sensor of a smartphone is much smaller. The reduction amplifies the pixels’ dimensional non-uniformity and generates a much stronger PRNU. As a result, it’s possible to match a photo to a smartphone camera using one photo instead of the 50 normally required for digital forensics.

When a customer initiates a transaction, the retailer asks the customer (likely through an app) to photograph two QR codes (a type of barcode that contains information about the transaction) presented on an ATM, cash register or other screen.

Using the app, the customer then sends the photograph back to the retailer, which scans the picture to measure the smartphone’s PRNU. The retailer can detect a forgery because the PRNU of the attacker’s camera will alter the PRNU component of the photograph.