Canon, a Japanese camera company, has created an image sensor that can shoot high-quality colour images in the dark, marking a significant step forward in the field of automated driving and augmented reality.
According to Nikkei, Canon will begin mass-producing the sensor in 2022.
The sensor can detect light at a tenth of the brightness required by traditional sensors, making it suitable for a variety of industrial applications including driving and surveillance.
Because it contains 3.2 million pixels, the sensor is thought to be the world’s densest, allowing for extremely high image clarity. Canon plans to begin mass-producing the new sensor in Kawasaki in the second half of 2022. Because the same manufacturing technology that is used for CMOS can also be used for SPAD, production should ramp up quickly. In addition, the two types of sensors are expected to cost about the same to manufacture.
Another Canon-developed technology, a single photon avalanche diode, or SPAD, that receives light, improves the sensor’s sensitivity. SPADs amplify a single photon entering the sensor into a vast number of electrons, unlike standard CMOS sensors used in digital cameras, which output signals depending on the photons received over a period of time. This enables the detection of objects in even the tiniest amounts of light.
Image clarity is determined by the amount of pixels in a sensor, and Canon’s SPAD sensor has 3.2 million, making it the world’s densest, more than three times that of the company’s conventional sensor. It can detect the time it takes for light to return in nanoseconds, allowing for more precise object recognition.
Canon feels the SPAD sensor is a suitable fit for self-driving cars. Canon will see interest from a wide range of businesses due to the promise of high-quality color images in the dark. However, according to Nikkei Asia, Canon will not have the market to itself because Panasonic and Sony are aiming to launch their own SPAD sensors next year.