Image Sensors in Era of Smart Factories

Current and Future application areas for Image sensors

Infineon: Within the consumer category, the REAL3 Image Sensor is already integrated in mobile devices. For one, it is playing a key role in the newest innovative Augmented Reality (AR) smartphone by ASUS. Launched in January this year, the ASUS Zenfone AR is the world’s thinnest smartphone that is using Infineon’s 3D ToF camera for 3-dimensional perception of its surroundings in real-time. AR enriches the perception of the real environment with written text as well as virtual objects that are embedded in correct scale and realistic perspective.

The monocular camera architecture and the compact single-chip design enable the smallest form factor designs. With its scalability to meet different application requirements, the REAL3 Image Sensor family will continue to pave the way into mobile devices like tablets, and head-mounted displays, meeting size and power consumption requirements.

Based on the REAL3 Image Sensor family for consumer electronic markets, dedicated automotive derivatives are in developing stages and aims at addressing automotive requirements like wider temperature range and an imager package with automotive qualification. The TOF system is a total game changer for automotive applications in many ways.

ToF can greatly enhance safety and convenience in cars. Capturing 3D data within the car has and will enable new innovative HMI concepts with complete new user experiences. Here, the possibility of enhanced functionality and performance of many other applications within and around the car is a plus. These include driver state monitoring advantage, Passenger classifications, Touch-less gesture control apart from surround view for sophisticated parking assist and obstacle detection.

Texas Instruments: Some of the key Applications include Machine Vision for Logistics/Auto Dimensioning in Factory Automation, Automated Object Grasping, Occupancy Detection, People Counting, Autonomous Robot Navigation to name a few in Smart Factory Applications.

On Semiconductor: Image sensors from ON Semiconductor are used today in applications ranging from industrial imaging (including machine vision, medical and scientific imaging, aerial inspection and more) to automotive applications such as Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) and through to consumer and security imaging.  Our devices are used in award-winning cinematography cameras selected for movie and television productions around the world, and are found out of this world in earth-orbiting satellites and in probes and landers throughout the solar system.  Going forward we will continue to leverage our broad technology base and product portfolio to provide solutions for the most challenging imaging applications.

Sasken : The current focus is in the area of asset performance management. The challenges here are placement of sensor inside the heavy equipment, getting stabilised image in moving or vibrating equipment and capturing images from all angles. Another challenge is capturing multiple images and joining them to get complete information about the equipment. This is important for big equipment as one camera might not give overall/complete picture about the equipment and the decision cannot be made based on partial knowledge. We are also exploring other advantages along with specific use cases once the image sensors are deployed. There is also focus on reducing the installation cost of plant by taking out conventional transmitters and utilizing the vision sensor to make some of those decisions. Though the adaptation of image sensor or machine vision is important in the industry to improve the efficiency of manufacturing, it is also important to see the use cases where it could also help to reduce some resources in order to get some cost advantage as well. The memory and processing capability in hardware could enable more use cases in the near future.

Future Trends

Infineon: Augmented reality in smartphones – Today, AR is in an early introduction phase representing a niche market. It will be up to smartphone users to identify applications that they desire in the course of their daily life. This may realize a huge business potential: just the premium segment of smartphones is rated to be more than 400 million devices sold each year. Currently, already four of the top five camera module makers for mobile devices and smartphones are actively working on camera module designs using Infineon’s REAL3 image sensor. Two of them are already delivering devices in volume quantities.

Intelligent streetlight for the city of the future: Streetlight could be equipped with parking spot detection sensors. Feeding information about the availability of vacant parking spaces to the cloud will create the basis for an intelligent traffic management system. Thanks to integrated radar sensors, the intelligent streetlight can also be configured to adapt to environmental conditions.

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