Updated: 01/05/2005

Module 15 Addendum


New Image Sensor Technology


In mid-2002 a new camera sensor technology was introduced that has important advantages over the current generation of camera imaging devices.

As shown in the illustration, each pixel location in the new camera chip is able to simultaneously detect the three primary colors: red, green and blue.

Today's s typical CCD and CMOS image sensors use mosaic color filters and require complex mathematical algorithms to estimate (interpolate) the red, green and blue color values.

To accomplish this interpolation dedicated processing hardware and software are required inside the camera. This adds cost and complexity to a camera and in still cameras results in an annoying delay between clicking the shutter button and capturing a picture.

The new approach, which is illustrated above, has four primary advantages:

1. It is capable of three times the resolution (sharpness) of current CCD and CMOS approaches.

2. It provides film-quality color without the typical video color aberrations and "color rainbow" artifacts common in today's digital cameras

3. It greatly simplifies and reduces the electronics required for handling the color data.

4. It is cheaper.

The new device detects color in a manner similar to color film. With film, different colors of light penetrate to different layers of photosensitive material, with each layer detecting a specific color. The new approach uses a similar concept with each of detectors embedded in the silicon having the ability to detect the three primary colors at every pixel location.

The Foveon Corporation (www.foveon.com ) makes the new technology. According to a Foveon spokesperson, "This new technology combines the immediacy and excitement of the digital photography experience with the quality that exceeds what consumers have previously come to expect only from film." (Note the word "exceeds.")

With the new approach pixels can be grouped together to create larger, full-color "super pixels." The size of the pixel groups is variable and can be configured instantaneously on the camera allowing the digital camera to capture high-resolution still photographs and full-motion video.

Security applications can benefit from this dual-mode capture capability by recording video for general surveillance and at timed intervals also capturing high-resolution still photographs of suspects.


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