Sony Introduces Next-Generation Image Sensor to Advance Mobile Device Cameras
Sony today announced (via Macworld UK) the launch of new image sensor technology that the company expects will help improve performance and shrink the size of cameras on mobile devices by later this year. The new back-illuminated complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor utilizes a pixel section layered directly onto the sensor's circuitry, significantly reducing the sensor size from the previous design that utilized pixel and circuit sections side-by-side on a substrate layer.
This image sensor layers the pixel section containing formations of back-illuminated structure pixels onto chips containing the circuit section for signal processing, which is in place of supporting substrates for conventional back-illuminated CMOS image sensors. This structure achieves further enhancement in image quality, superior functionalities and a more compact size that will lead to enhanced camera evolution.
With sampling set to begin in March, the new stacked CMOS sensor includes built-in signal processing technology and utilizes the company's "RGBW Coding" that adds white-light sensors to the traditional red, green and blue, offering better low-light camera performance. Enhanced high dynamic range (HDR) technology will also improve the sensor's movie capabilities in bright-light situations.
Apple had utilized OmniVision Technologies as its image sensor supplier on its mobile devices, but Sony was able attract at least part of Apple's business with the new 8-megapixel sensor on the iPhone 4S. With its new image sensor technology, which is set to enter mass production in the fall and begin appearing in products late this year or early next year, Sony is clearly looking to remain at the forefront of the booming mobile device camera market.