Machine vision: Image sensors offer advanced capabilities

Image sensors can serve practically every automation-focused machine-vision application.
By Control Engineering Staff July 24, 2008

Palo Alto, CA — The market for image sensors demonstrates explosive growth both technologically and economically, according to analysis from Frost & Sullivan . Image sensors are an emergent solution for practically every automation-focused machine vision application. While manufacturers capitalize on increasing sales volumes, they also face the possibility of market saturation and manufacturing technology limitations. New electronic fabrication processes, software implementations, and new application fields will dictate the future growth of image sensor technology.
Advances in Image Sensors , a part of the Technical Insights subscription package, provides a technology overview and outlook for image sensors. Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters, and research services. The study provides a detailed snapshot of developments within the image sensor industry, typically focusing on CMOS and CCD technology. Furthermore, this research service includes detailed technology analysis and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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The Frost & Sullivan study projects that image sensor technologies will contribute to imaging requirements in applications such as digital cameras, mobile phones, medical imaging equipment, automotive navigation, driver assist, and industrial machine-vision applications. Developments in manufacturing, hardware, and software will drive the improvements in image sensor performance, which will lead to new application opportunities.
The company says growing popularity and demand for electronic devices incorporating digital camera technology is driving innovations in image sensor technology. The application scope of image sensors is expanding beyond conventional uses as improved flexibility and performance has resulted in digital imaging technology replacing older film-based technology in the majority of applications. Innovations in image sensors currently focus on improving the sensitivity, while decreasing the exposure times using pixels that seem to be growing smaller and smaller. The end result will be image sensors that produce images using a very small amount of light. On the other end of the spectrum, manufacturers are developing larger sensors for applications that require coverage of a greater optical range.
To ensure the dominance of image sensors, issues regarding manufacturing limitations must be addressed, analysts say. Image sensor manufacturers will need to find new ways to differentiate themselves from competitors, through hardware and software improvements.
“Aside from the consumer market, image sensor technology will need to address future high performance imaging requirements in applications, such as medical, industrial, and aerospace,” states Frost & Sullivan. “Overall, the incorporation of image sensors is, and will continue to be, based purely on performance and cost improvements over conventional technologies.”
Manufacturers will need to continuously improve performance, flexibility, and system integration capabilities while also bringing down costs. An increase in the application scope of image sensors will encourage the development of new technologies to improve performance characteristics and give manufacturers more opportunities to differentiate themselves from competitors.
C.G. Masi , senior editor
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