OmniVision Introduces CMOS image sensors for medical apps, talks industry future

Heather Hamilton, contributing writer

OmniVision’s OH01A medical sensor, Source: OmniVision

CMOS image sensor technology keeps on
improving in performance, size and power consumption, helping them find homes
in higher reliability applications such as automotive, medical and security. Higher
functionality integration also makes the image sensors well-suited for security
cameras, machine vision and medical instruments. 

OmniVision Technologies Inc. believes further
improvements will be made in several areas. These include shrinking pixel size,
increasing formats (more pixels, moving from 24M to 100M), higher speed image
sensors (frames per second (fps) from 30 fps to 60 fps to 120 fps to 240 fps),
lower power consumption image sensors, and smarter image sensors (such as
advanced processing and image capture in the same chip). 

“In the past 10 years, CMOS image sensors have
evolved from toys to instruments in applications such as security, automotive
and medical,” said Dr. Boyd Fowler, chief technology officer with OmniVision.
Amidst what Fowler described as “continuous rapid technology and product improvement
and development,” the company is dedicated to investing in next-generation
semiconductor processes, circuits, systems and algorithm technologies. Among
them, a pair of recently announced medical image sensors, designed to offer
high functionality in a tiny size. 

In a press release, the company describes the OH01A
as the world’s first medical image sensor to provide 1280 x 800 resolution at a
rate of 60 fps. The sensor measures 2.5 mm x 1.5 mm. 

OmniVision hopes the sensor presents an
optimal solution for endoscope and urology applications. Tahzeeb Gunja,
principal marketing and business development manager at OmniVision, emphasizes
the need for size in these applications, adding that, “they need a wide viewing
angle and close focus distance with low-power consumption to reduce heat and
improve patient comfort.” 

The OH01A sensor has a 1/11-inch optical
format, a 1.1-micron pixel, RAW data output, and 1280 x 800 resolution that can
be resized to 720p for HD (16:9 aspect ratio) or 800 x
800 for square displays. It boasts 25 percent less power
consumption than past medical image sensors, and can be synchronized to build
3D images. 

The second sensor, called the OV2741, offers 1080p HD resolution, a
broadband double anti-reflective coating to eliminate glare, and easy
integration, all in a tiny package. The sensor is most useful in endoscopic
devices used in diagnosis and surgery, including airway management and
gastrointestinal applications, said OmniVision. 

The sensor has a ⅙-inch optical format for
low-light operation, a 1.4-micron pixel size, and support for RAW data output.
The low-power consumption of 90 mW, operating at 60 fps and full HD resolution,
keeps the distal tip of the endoscope cooler for patient comfort. Two sensors
can be synchronized to allow for 3D video. The device also integrates
one-time-programmable (OTP) memory and a pulse-width modulator (PWM) to drive
LED illumination without an external driver IC. 

“The future of imaging is the confluence of
image capture and recognition,” Fowler said. “OmniVision is uniquely positioned
to enable this revolution through dedicated research and development efforts,
close customer interactions and best-in-class manufacturing.”