We catch up with OmniVision, technology leaders in imaging solutions to find out about their latest developments including their 8MP Platform, CameraCubeChip™, Near Infared Technology (Nyxel® sensor), OmniBSI ™split- pixel technology and 3D stacking technology.
OmniVision addresses more segments than automotive, does this bring a benefit to automotive and if so how?
Really good question, the benefit would be what we call “cross segment technological synergy”. For instance, giving the nature of mobile phone industry, it moves a lot faster and has a longer history of image sensor adoption, therefore it drives the CMOS imaging technology development with extremely fast speed. Being a leader in the mobile market, OmniVision brings a benefit that cutting edge smart phone technologies which are available in your mobile phone today, could be fully utilized and effectively implemented in your car in a few years’ time. A good example of this could be seen in our 8MP platform, which uses 4-cell and 3D stacking technologies. Both technologies have been used in the mobile market for many years. The same theory applies to other markets. Security market is leading with low light and near infrared imaging technology and delivered the ground-breaking Nyxel® technology a few years ago and now we are able to utilize it in Automotive in-cabin camera systems and advanced far range exterior cameras for Autonomous Driving applications.
What challenges does OmniVision see in applications like ADAS/AD and how is OmniVision planning to address these challenges?
ADAS/AD applications combine human viewing as well as machine vision systems, and both require high resolution. As the resolution increases, the pixel size needs to be smaller to achieve the same form factor. Higher resolution can allow for viewing further ahead, which is critical for AD applications. We have added features like multiple ROI which can be used for dual use case applications or optimizing the machine vision signal path.
You may have seen our 8MP platform PR release last year (including the first 8MP LFM). From that platform, we could create sensors with different resolutions and frame rates that are part of the AD system.
In addition with AD, there are new features which are non-imaging, such as cybersecurity, which need to be included in the image sensor.
DMS (Driver Monitoring System) is the next area that will be mandated, how is OmniVision prepared for that?
Indeed, DMS is one of the key features that dramatically decreases the risk of driver distraction and drowsiness, we are well prepared for the mandate. With our current 3µm Global Shutter pixel, we can offer sensors from VGA to 2MP. In addition, we are also taking advantage of our unique CameraCubeChip™ (CCC) technology to minimize the size of camera modules, offering a turnkey solution with added benefit of small form factor to automotive sensing system designers. An example will be OVM9284 announced earlier this year.
What is OmniVision’s view on convergence between viewing and non-viewing applications?
We believe with the right technology, in time it will happen. For example, front viewing and AR cameras would be good examples for convergence.
Currently, viewing and non-viewing applications typically use different CFA. The convergence will depend on one CFA that can provide good performance for both viewing and non-viewing applications with the associated processing which pertains to both.
There were many discussions on Near Infrared technology (Nyxel® sensor) for automotive, what benefits does this bring to automotive customers?
As mentioned earlier, OmniVision’s groundbreaking Near Infrared technology – Nyxel® was first launched back in 2017 for the security market, and we have been excited to bring it to the automotive segment for quite some time. Nyxel® will achieve 5X higher QE than traditional sensors – 40% V.S. 8%. This is a huge leap which results in a brighter image, longer range of image detection and consuming less illumination power and real estate. Our first Nyxel® infused X3A2S sensor was announced earlier this year, using a 3.2µm pixel and can be utilized for interior applications at 940nm, which means no red glow that could cause driver distraction. Another use case could be part of the AD system (side cameras). This is only the start of where you will see Nyxel® in automotive.
How are KPIs such as HDR and LFM changing from OEM and how is OmniVision addressing this?
The OEM in each generation are raising the performance bar of what they need out of an image sensor. The current benchmark would be 2.5MP image sensor with 120dB HDR. However, for the next generation, the KPI would be 140dB HDR and LFM.
The pixel density would increase and impact pixel size, but with high performance expectations on low light and performance over temperature.
This gives challenges’ to image sensor companies to keep improving the pixel performance. Our OmniBSI ™split- pixel technology and 3D stacking technology has helped OmniVision achieve this. At the AutoSens Brussels event, we will be showing 2 sensors (X8B and X3C) which have been developed and can deliver next generation performance today.
What are you looking forward to at AutoSens 2020 this year?
AutoSens has been bringing automotive sensing technical talents into one open minded community for many years. Despite 2020 being a very challenging year, the team at AutoSens was able to overcome difficulties on various levels and continue to deliver the events in a virtual format. We attended the online series in June and July, and were pleasantly surprised by the rich content and technology conversations in those virtual events. We are excited to be a presenter and exhibitor at the Brussels and Detroit series, look forward to bringing new technology and product demos as well as sharing our technical development with the community.