3D image sensors will detect surroundings

At next month’s Consumer Electronics Show, CES 2016, Infineon and pmdtechnologies gmbh will be showcasing the REAL3, 3D image sensor chips.
Compared to the previous version, the optical sensitivity and power consumption has been improved. The space-saving devices make it possible for cell phones to operate mini-camera systems that can measure 3D depth data, says the company.

The camera’s range and measurement accuracy depend on the intensity of the emitted and reflected IR light, and the pixel sensitivity of the 3D image sensor chip. The latter is double that of the previous version, reports the company, as a result of applying one microlens to each of the pixels of the sensor chip. Consequently, most of the incident light is directed to a pixel’s sensitive surface, so virtually no light energy is lost to the inactive areas. This means measurement quality is maintained, while working with only half of the emitted light output for more cost-effective IR lighting. In addition, claims the company, the camera’s system power consumption is almost halved.

The 3D image sensor chips to be showcased at the show in Las Vegas (6 to 9 January 2016) were specifically designed for mobile devices, where most applications only need a resolution of 38,000 pixels. Other changes to the last generation were that the 100,000-pixel matrix was scaled down, and functional blocks, such as the ADC were optimised. Thus, the system costs are lower: the sensor chip area is almost halved, and, because of the lower resolution, smaller and less expensive optical lenses can be used.

The three new REAL3 3D image sensor chips are equipped with microlenses and differ in the resolutions. The IRS1125C works with 352 x 288 pixels, the IRS1645C with 224 x 172 pixels and the IRS1615C with 160 x 120 pixels. In this respect, the IRS1645C and IRS1615C are produced on half the chip area of the IRS1125C.

The IRS1645C is particularly suitable for use in mobile devices. The companies are joint partners in Google’s Project Tango, where phones and tablets are equipped with a special optical sensor system for 3D perception, including a 3D camera with a IRS1645C 3D image sensor chip for augmented reality, indoor navigation and 3D measurement.


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