Smaller, more sensitive camera sensors open up new applications

June 02, 2020 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Smaller, more sensitive camera sensors open up new applications
More and more applications in cars use cameras as sensors. The demands on the performance of the image sensors are increasing massively: high dynamic range, low light performance, avoidance of flickering due to LED lighting - all these are the requirements that car manufacturers and electronics suppliers make on the sensors. Omnivison has now introduced two new sensors that meet these requirements - but they are designed for very different applications.

The first new product, the OVM9284, is a wafer-level infrared camera module (the industry’s first automotive-grade one) targeting driver monitoring systems. This “CameraCubeChip“ offers a resolution of 1 megapixel and has a compact size of 6.5 x 6.5mm to provide driver monitoring system (DMS) designers with maximum flexibility on placement within the cabin while remaining hidden from view. Additionally, it has the lowest power consumption among automotive camera modules—over 50% lower than the nearest competitor—which enables it to run continuously in the tightest of spaces and at the lowest possible temperatures for maximum image quality.

The OVM9284 is built on OmniVision’s OmniPixel3-GS global-shutter pixel architecture, which provides best-in-class quantum efficiency at the 940nm wavelength for high-quality driver images in near or total darkness. The integrated OmniVision image sensor has a 3 micron pixel and a 1/4" optical format, along with 1280 x 800 resolution.

“Most existing DMS cameras use glass lenses, which are large and difficult to hide from drivers to avoid distraction, and are too expensive for most car models,” said Aaron Chiang, marketing director at OmniVision. “Our OVM9284 CameraCubeChip module is the world’s first to provide automotive designers with the small size, low power consumption and reflowable form factor of wafer-level optics.”

The OVM9284’s integration of OmniVision’s image sensor, signal processor and wafer-level optics in a single compact package reduces the complexity of dealing with multiple vendors, and increases supply reliability while speeding development time. Furthermore, unlike traditional cameras, all CameraCubeChip modules are reflowable. This means they can be mounted to a printed circuit board simultaneously with other components using automated surface-mount assembly equipment, which increases quality while reducing assembly costs.

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