Image sensor combines ultra low light and near-infrared technologies

16th October 2018
Alex Lynn

Advanced digital imaging solutions developer, OmniVision Technologies, has announced the OS02C10, a 2.9μm, two megapixel image sensor with ultra-low-light (ULL) technology. Combining ULL with OmniVision's Nyxel near-infrared (NIR) technology, the OS02C10 works equally well in all lighting conditions. 

It can detect incident light in both visible and NIR wavelengths and produce precise colour and monochrome images for security applications.

Nxyel NIR technology infuses the OS02C10 with quantum efficiency (QE) of 60% at 850nm and 40% at 940nm, which is two times to four times better than competing devices. Such excellent QE enables the use of lower-power IR illumination in total darkness, resulting in an estimated three times reduction in system-level power consumption. 

Additionally, 940nm NIR lighting cannot be detected by the human eye in dark indoor settings, while 850nm light is suited for outdoor security cameras. The OS02C10's ability to capture crisp, clear images using undetectable 940nm NIR light means that indoor security cameras will not disturb sleeping occupants, and can be easily concealed from intruders.

The amount of NIR light that a sensor requires to capture high-quality images can be quantified with a new metric called NIR SNR1, which takes into account the QE, pixel size and read noise. The OS02C10 achieves a SNR1850nm of 23nw/cm2 and an SNR1940nm of 31nw/cm2, which are two to four times smaller numbers compared with the leading competitors' sensors. 

For the designers of security cameras that operate in total darkness, this means they can reduce IR illumination to consume two to four times less power compared to the competitors' sensors, for the same environment and over the same image-detection range.

Brian Fang, Business Development Director at OmniVision, stated: "Surveillance cameras with AI functionality need the highest possible resolution in all lighting conditions for accurate facial recognition. These next-generation, intelligent-sensing surveillance systems are being enabled by our new sensor's top imaging performance, with industry-best detection capabilities under both extremely low visible light and infrared light in complete darkness."

The OS02C10 has a low-noise design, achieving an SNR1 of 0.16 lux while producing high definition 1080p images. OmniVision's proprietary dual-conversion-gain technology allows this sensor to achieve the industry's best ULL performance, while the three frame staggered shutter minimises motion artifacts and enables a high dynamic range (HDR) of 120 dB.

Additionally, these technologies are easily upgradable to 2K and 4K resolution as security systems begin their transition to higher-quality displays.

The OS02C10 image sensor is available now in an extremely small package.

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