The security and surveillance market is growing at a rapid rate. Internet Protocol (IP) cameras are key to the future development of the sector, and new standards are enabling replacement of legacy analogue cameras. Innovation and development depends on the image sensors within the cameras. Brian Benamati, Security Market Segment Manager, Industrial & Security Division, ON Semiconductor explains.
Camera makers and system integrators in the surveillance/security market have two key performance requirements - exceptional low light imaging to provide sufficient signal-to-noise ratio in low light scene conditions, and high dynamic range to enable simultaneous imaging of bright highlights and dark shadows. Once these key parameters are met, the next performance factors include extended Near Infrared (NIR) quantum efficiency, for imaging with NIR illuminators, and excellent modular transfer function (MTF) to ensure image sharpness.
As is the case in many markets, technical advances and solutions need to be cost effective in order to develop opportunities for widespread adoption. The balance between performance and cost is often very challenging given the competitive nature of the surveillance/security market, yet it enables system integrators, camera makers, ISP providers and image sensor suppliers to have long term sustainable partnerships.
For leading suppliers of image sensors, for not only security but several adjacent markets, it is important to maintain a broad base of advanced technologies that can be leveraged across multiple applications. As an example, the small pixel platforms developed for mobile and consumer applications can be combined with the robust design and reliability required for automotive applications to develop cost effective, reliable image sensor products designed specifically for security. This has been a clear strategic approach for ON Semiconductor and one that it will continue into the future.
A growth industry
It is anticipated that the surveillance/security market will continue to show good growth for the foreseeable future, especially as image signal processing compression standards such as H.264 and the emerging H.265 are predominant. This enables transmission of higher resolution and faster frame rate videos for use with video analytics such as facial recognition.
Camera makers and ISP providers are always seeking to maintain performance while driving down cost. Pixel technologies such as backside illumination - for improved sensitivity with smaller pixels, and output interfaces such as MIPI and HiSPi - enabling HDR modes in the ISP chip set, are considered essential by customers. Continuing to improve performance will always be of importance, with technologies such as ON Semiconductor’s Clarity+ colour filter pattern offering continued low light sensitivity improvements.
The surveillance market is moving towards greater interconnection, higher definition and enhanced intelligence. This is evidenced by intelligent urban surveillance systems emerging, through the networking of security cameras, intelligent transportation system cameras and persistent aerial surveillance. Image sensors with resolutions beyond 1,080p, such as 3-6 megapixels, and even 8-12 megapixels are already beginning to enable fish-eye, wide field of view and panoramic cameras for enhanced situational awareness. Managing the interconnectivity, and the increased bandwidth required by these higher resolution solutions, will be important as this market continues to evolve.