Over 30 billion devices will be wirelessly linked to the rapidly growing Internet of Things (IoT) by 2020. Consequently, new generations of connected objects – boasting rapid data collection abilities coupled with a more adaptive nature – are expected to hit the market over the next decade.
Creating a new category of imagers and sensors is an essential piece of the complex IoT puzzle. Indeed, digital imagers used to capture still photos or shoot videos are now evolving to meet the advanced needs of smart sensing and computer vision.
For example, Rambus binary pixel imagers significantly improve capture quality by combining binary threshold and oversampling pixel technologies with intelligent processing. Essentially, this facilitates single-shot and ultra-high dynamic range, in addition to enabling low-light sensitivity and enhanced stop motion in low-cost mobile imagers.
Meanwhile, Rambus lensless smart sensors reduce size, cost and power consumption with a comprehensive platform that fuses co-designed optics, sensors and processing.
“The point about lensless cameras – or lensless image sensing – is that images aren’t captured directly, but created subsequently by computing. In Rambus’ case, a critical link in this is a diffraction grating, which is done by using a spiral-shaped optical pattern,” Aapo Markkanen, a Principal Analyst at ABI Research, explained in a recent blog post.
“This pattern gives the captured light the shape that is needed to process it into an individual image. The main advantages of the lensless approach are the extremely miniature form factors that it allows and potentially dramatic decrease in costs. Lenses require a relatively lot of space and are famously expensive to manufacture, so extensive computerization can shake up the market on both fronts.”
As Markkanen points out, the concept’s real potential is primarily in the detection of physical changes and motion.
“[This is] where it also touches strongly on the IoT. Tiny, cheaply produced cameras could allow countless types of physical objects to ‘see’ their dynamic environments, as well as to notify and act on changes in them,” he said.
“Security and monitoring are the most obvious use cases that come to mind, but there are also many, many others, ranging from gesture recognition in wearable UIs to contextual awareness in connected vehicles.”
Interested in learning more? You can read the paper titled “Lensless Ultra-Miniature CMOS Computational Imagers and Sensors” by David G. Stork and Patrick R. Gill here and check out our binary pixel fact sheet here.