Editorial Feature

Regional Spotlight: Image Sensors in Europe

Europe has been a global leader in developing next-generation image sensor technology, with numerous research organizations and firms devoted to producing innovative solutions. This article will give an overview of image sensor research and companies emerging from European countries.

Leading European Image Sensor Technologies Companies

Europe is home to several companies developing new-gen image sensors for different applications. Some of these include:

AMS OSRAM AG

AMS OSRAM AG is a global leader in optical solutions, offering CMOS imaging sensors with high dynamic range, low noise, and high frame rates. Their sensors are used in various applications, including medical electronics, machine vision, scientific instrumentation, traffic management, and photography.

It is the only company to offer infrared illumination solutions for all 3D camera platforms, using its state-of-the-art VCSEL technology and optical design capabilities. Its AI-enhanced imaging solutions make industrial and consumer products operate more efficiently and safely.

Its Mira Family image sensors offer high frame rates and can provide images with color, mono, and even infrared data. These sensors are especially useful for 3D sensing technologies like structured light or active stereo vision, enabling hand and eye tracking, depth mapping and object detection.

With A.I. processors, Mira image sensors can improve human safety when interacting with intelligent products and free-moving robots.

Image Credit: NicoElNino/Shutterstock.com

Teledyne e2v

Teledyne e2v is a UK-based company that provides high-performance CMOS image sensors and subsystems for various applications. Their distinctive strategy entails partnering with customers to create innovative standard, semi-custom, and custom imaging solutions in response to their particular market and application requirements.

Teledyne e2v's front and backside illuminated CCDs and back-thinned CCDs are considered the preferred choice for scientific and quantum imaging applications such as microscopy, spectroscopy, astronomy, and x-ray.

Its Hydra3D+ is the first high-resolution Time-of-Flight image sensor that works without motion artifacts. It has a new 10μm pixel that enables real-time 3D detection without motion artifacts and provides high-depth resolution, speed, and flexibility.

The device suitable for various challenging applications, including warehouse management, factory automation, construction mapping, and surveillance.

STMicroelectronics

STMicroelectronics has been a leading manufacturer of imaging sensors since 1999, with a product portfolio ranging from entry-level VGA to 24 megapixels. With extensive expertise in the imaging chain, STMicroelectronics offers custom design services to key customers. Its sensors address many imaging applications in the security, medical, automotive, and high-end traditional camera markets.

STMicroelectronics constantly enhance its image sensor technology with new features such as extended depth of field and high dynamic range.

VG6640 is a 1.3-megapixel image sensor with excellent performance and dynamic range, suitable for outdoor applications such as automotive and security. In addition, the sensor delivers superior low-light performance and includes features for improved image quality.

It also includes a synchronization function for multi-camera systems to minimize latency and motion artifacts.

Prophesee

Prophesee specializes in developing a unique AI-driven sensor solution that has revolutionized motion capture and processing. Its technology offers ultra-low latency, robustness, energy efficiency and low data rate, making it well-suited for various applications in industrial automation, IoT and consumer electronics.

Prophesee has partnered with leading companies in various industries, including smartphones, AR/VR, factory automation, and science and health research, to integrate its unique AI-driven sensor solution. In addition, the company has collaborated with machine vision suppliers and recently released event-based vision sensors with Sony.

Andanta GmbH

ANDANTA GmbH, based in Germany, focuses on optoelectronic image sensors and detector arrays. The company aims to provide specialized image-sensing solutions for niche applications to manufacturers of cameras, spectrometers, telescopes, and other optoelectronic systems.

ANDANTA's Hires-CMOS 1205 is a CMOS Image Sensor designed for high-speed industrial inspection applications. It is ideal for LCD and PCB inspection with a frame rate of 10 fps at full resolution.

The sensor is highly sensitive to NIR, making it suitable for high-end security and surveillance applications. It is available in monochrome and color versions and consumes less than 1.5 W at a full frame rate.

 

Imasenic Advanced Imaging

IMASENIC Advanced Imaging SL is a Spanish startup that designs advanced CMOS image sensors for demanding applications. The European Union recognizes the company as an innovative SME and a founding Spanish Association of the Semiconductor Industry member.

IMASENIC Advanced Imaging was founded by experts who created the Kirana sensor, which records videos at 5 Mfps and won the Queen's Awards for Innovation in 2016. It aims to become the preferred provider of distinctive image sensors and systems.

The company offers a range of advanced image sensors and systems for various applications. The IMA500 family achieves the fastest frame rate for large-area image sensors, while the IMA300 family delivers low-noise performance for industrial applications.

The Sagara1212 sensor is a large-area sensor ideal for large-area X-ray imaging, such as mammography or chest radiography. The IMA501 sensor offers high sensitivity and low noise for medical imaging applications.

Government Funding and Initiatives

European governments have invested in imaging sensor technology through funding programs such as Horizon Europe, the German Research Foundation, Innovate UK, and Vision Stuttgart. These investments support research and development projects that involve imaging sensors in diverse fields, such as medical imaging, industrial inspection systems, and advanced manufacturing.

Horizon Europe is the largest research and innovation funding initiative in the European Union, with a budget of €95,5 billion for 2021-2027. It finances various scientific and technological projects, including imaging and sensing technology.

The SWIRup project is one such project funded by the program aimed at image sensors for high-resolution earth observation missions.

Image Credit: metamorworks/Shutterstock.com

Image Sensors Europe

European governments and industrial organizations organize seminars and business conferences to support the development of image sensors in the region, such as Image Sensors Europe.

Image Sensors Europe, established in 2007, focuses on the technical aspects of image sensors and aims to connect the entire digital imaging supply chain to further develop applications. It provides a platform for over 250 industry experts and colleagues to engage in high-caliber discussions and networking opportunities.

Regional Research and Development in Image Sensors Technology

High-resolution REAL3™ 3D Image Sensor for Automotive

Infineon and PMD Technologies AG have collaborated to develop a new gen REAL3 automotive image sensor, the world's first ISO26262-compliant high-resolution 3D image sensor for automotive applications.

It features a VGA system resolution of 640 x 480 pixels and a 4mm image circle, allowing the use of small lenses in automotive camera systems.

The sensor can accurately estimate occupant size and weight, passenger and seat position data, and detect driver distraction and fatigue for intelligent airbag deployment and restraint systems. It can also be used for comfort features like gesture control, intuitive interior lighting, and adjacent applications such as mobile robotics and drones.

Neuromorphic Image Sensors in Smartphones

Prophesee has announced a collaboration with Qualcomm to optimize its neuromorphic Metavision sensors for use with Snapdragon mobile platforms, enabling OEMs to leverage the efficiency, quality, and speed of event-based vision in mobile devices.

Event-based vision sensors capture image data differently than standard sensor technology by catching changes in the scene as they occur. This new type of vision allows for significant reductions in latency, power, and data processing needs.

The cooperation seeks to bring similar advantages to smartphone cameras, with a developer kit anticipated later this year.

SWIRup Project

The SWIRup project, sponsored by the European Union's Horizon 2020 program, intends to create image sensors for high-resolution shortwave infrared (SWIR) earth observation missions.

The new SWIRup sensors are designed to operate at high temperatures, eliminating the need for cryogenic cooling and enabling miniaturization and increased functionality of optical payloads. In addition to earth observation missions, the SWIRup sensors are expected to benefit a wide range of commercial applications in urban planning, mineral mapping, and medical imaging.

The project is a mutual collaboration of participants from the University of Sheffield (UK), Thales Alenia (France), Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (UK), III-V Lab (France), Norsk Elektro Optikk AS (Norway), Leti, (France) and Royal Observatory of Belgium.

MIGOSA Project

MIGOSA is a project funded by the EU that focuses on testing and commercializing Pixpolar Oy's modified internal gate (MIG) image sensor. This innovative sensor technology provides better image quality in low-light conditions than conventional sensors and extends the maximum detection range by 1.6 times. In addition, cameras equipped with MIG sensors are also immune to electromagnetic interference.

The project aims to further evaluate MIG sensors in various industries for potential use in security/surveillance and night vision cameras.

Future Outlook

The image sensor market in Europe is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.6% during 2023-2028, driven by the increasing demand for high-resolution cameras containing image sensors in various end-user industries such as automotive, consumer electronics, and security.

The growth in the production of smartphones and tablets with improved camera functions and good image quality, and the need to integrate multiple cameras into a single device for enhanced features such as low-light photography, optical zoom, and 3D imaging, will continue to boost the market.

The integration of image sensors in industrial applications such as automated optical inspection and the adoption of 3D imaging in manufacturing processes and monitoring operations are expected to contribute to the market's growth.

Regional Spotlight: Image Sensors in Asia-Pacific.

References and Further Reading

Mordor Intelligence. (2023). Europe Image Sensors Market - Growth, Trends, Covid-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2023 - 2028). [Online]. Available at: https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/europe-image-sensors-market-industry?fbclid=IwAR0ou0YQMBnjgvU_qFxlA1zED4pwiI6yk9x8e7OSLjfKhFlH5QlLnApfeSc

Hackmann, C. (2023). Bringing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Smart Products: How Mira Family Image Sensors Empower Intelligent Machine-Learning. [Online]. ams-OSRAM AG. Available at: https://ams-osram.com/news/blog/how-mira-family-image-sensors-empower-intelligent-machine-learning

Teledyne. (2023). Hydra3D+: First High Resolution ToF Sensor to Work Without Motion Artefacts. [Online]. Available at: https://imaging.teledyne-e2v.com/products/3d-cmos-image-sensors/hydra3d-plus/

STMicroelectronics (2023). CMOS Image Sensors. [Online]. Available at: https://www.st.com/en/imaging-and-photonics-solutions/cmos-image-sensors.html

ANDANTA. (2023). ANDANTA GmbH. [Online]. Available at: https://www.andanta.de/en/e-unternehmen.html

Imasenic. (2023). Imaging Markets: Applications. [Online]. Imasenic Advanced Imaging SL. Available at: https://www.imasenic.com/applications/ 

Reinhard von Faltin. (2022). Infineon Presents the World's First ISO26262-Compliant High-Resolution 3D Image Sensor for Automotive. [Online]. Infineon. Available at: https://www.infineon.com/cms/en/about-infineon/press/market-news/2022/INFPSS202206-092.html

Imaging & Machine Vision Europe. (2023). Qualcomm and Prophesee to deliver neuromorphic smartphone imaging. [Online]. Available at: https://www.imveurope.com/news/qualcomm-partners-prophesee-bring-neuromorphic-imaging-smartphones

The University of Sheffield. (2023). SWIRup: High Operating Temperature Image Sensors for Space Applications. [Online]. Available at: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/swirup 

CORDIS. (2022). MIGOSA - Image Sensor for low light Camera Applications. [Online]. Available at: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/823270 

Smithers. (2023). About Image Sensors Europe. [Online]. Available at: https://www.image-sensors.com/image-sensors-europe/event-overview 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Owais Ali

Written by

Owais Ali

NEBOSH certified Mechanical Engineer with 3 years of experience as a technical writer and editor. Owais is interested in occupational health and safety, computer hardware, industrial and mobile robotics. During his academic career, Owais worked on several research projects regarding mobile robots, notably the Autonomous Fire Fighting Mobile Robot. The designed mobile robot could navigate, detect and extinguish fire autonomously. Arduino Uno was used as the microcontroller to control the flame sensors' input and output of the flame extinguisher. Apart from his professional life, Owais is an avid book reader and a huge computer technology enthusiast and likes to keep himself updated regarding developments in the computer industry.

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