24 June 2020

Canon develops world's first 1-megapixel SPAD image sensor

TOKYO, June 24, 2020—Canon Inc. announced today that the company has developed the world's first1 single photon avalanche diode (SPAD) image sensor with signal-amplifying pixels capable of capturing 1-megapixel images. SPAD image sensors are ideal for such applications as 2-dimensional cameras, which capture and develop still image and video in an extremely short span of time. These sensors also hold potential for use in 3-dimensional cameras due to their ability to obtain information about the distance between them and a subject as image data.

A SPAD sensor is a uniquely designed image sensor in which each pixel possesses an electronic element. When a single light particle, called a photon, reaches a pixel it is multiplied—as if creating an "avalanche"—that results in a single large electrical pulse. The ability to generate multiple electrons from a single photon provides such advantages as greater sensitivity during image capture and high precision distance measurement.

The SPAD image sensor developed by Canon overcomes the longstanding difficulties of achieving this effect with high pixel counts. By adopting new circuit technology, Canon's sensor uses a method known as photon counting to realize a digital image resolution of 1 megapixel. What's more, the sensor employs a global shutter that allows simultaneous control of exposure for every pixel. Exposure time can be shortened to as little as 3.8 nanoseconds2, making possible clear and distortion-free image capture. In addition, the sensor is capable of up to 24,000 frames per second (FPS) with 1 bit output, thus enabling slow-motion capture of fast movement within an extremely short time frame.

Thanks to its ability to capture fine details for the entirety of events and phenomena, this technology holds the potential for use in a wide variety of fields and applications including clear, safe and durable analysis of chemical reactions, natural phenomena including lightning strikes, falling objects, damage upon impact and other events that can't be observed with precision by the naked eye.

The sensor also features a high time resolution as precise as 100 picoseconds2, enabling it to determine the exact timing at which a photon reaches a pixel with ultra-high accuracy. Leveraging this functionality, the sensor is capable of Time of Flight distance measurement. What's more, with a high resolution of 1 megapixel and high-speed image capture, it is also able to accurately perform 3D distance measurements in situations where multiple subjects overlap—useful in such scenarios as a vehicle distance measurement for self-driving automobiles and grasping 3D spatial information for xR3 and similar devices.

Canon's development of a SPAD image sensor enables 3D cameras capable of recognizing depth information to achieve a resolution of 1 megapixel is expected to rapidly expand the use of such cameras as the "eyes" of high-performance robotic devices. Going forward, Canon will strive to anticipate the needs of industry by continuing to advance its innovative image sensor technology, further expand the possibilities of what is visible, spur evolution in science and industry through high-precision detection of information and contribute to the development of fields yet to be discovered.

1Among SPAD sensors. As of June 23, 2020. Based on Canon research.
21 nanosecond = one billionth of a second. 1 picosecond = 1 trillionth of a second.
3"xReality," where x represents a variable for the unknown. Includes AR (augmented reality), MR (mixed reality) and VR (virtual reality).

Additional information
The camera utilizing the sensor described in this press release, and its accompanying journal article, were jointly developed and written with scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and published in Optica, the journal of the Optical Society of America.

Title: Megapixel time-gated SPAD image sensor for 2D and 3D imaging applications

SPAD Sensors
A Single Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) sensor is a specially configured sensor in which a diode is placed within each pixel. Each diode, when receiving a single incoming photon of light, is able to turn this photon into an "avalanche" of electrons to create a single large electrical pulse signal. With the ability to convert a single photon into multiple electrons, this technology can contribute to greater sensitivity during photography as well as more accurate distance measurements.

SPAD sensors output a signal based on the number of generated pulses it counts. Although able to detect a single photon, each pixel requires its own memory or a counter, and conversion of a photon into multiple electrons requires a high voltage and consequently a high-voltage-resistant structure with sufficient insulation capabilities. Such requirements inevitably lead to larger pixels, and as a result, miniaturization and increased pixel counts have thus far proven difficult to realize. However, in recent years, there has been great progress in 3-dimensional stacking technologies, which has reinvigorated R&D efforts in the field.

In recent years, SPAD sensors have been used in various existing devices and equipment. Currently, smartphones utilize proximity sensors to determine the distance between the device and physical objects around it. In the field of medicine, these sensors are also used to detect radiation for the purpose of detecting cancer in early stages, such as Positron Emission Tomography (PET).

There are high expectations for the application of SPAD sensors in an even wider range of technologies, including onboard vehicle sensors, "xR" type devices--augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), virtual reality (VR), robotic vision and monitoring, space exploration, bio-imaging, optical communications and quantum computing.

Photon Counting

In physics, photon counting refers to the technique by which optical sensors count the number of photon particles, the smallest unit of light, and thereby determine such parameters of signal light as intensity and time distribution.

With conventional photodetectors, analog signals are detected via electrical currents and voltage. Meanwhile, photon counting method treats light signals as discreet digital signals.

Photon counting treats light as digital signals, and can eliminate the interference from electronic noise, enabling highly accurate detection of weak signals. Additionally, when utilized with dedicated processing circuitry, photon counting can accurately detect not only the amount of light, but also the precise time at which the photon is detected.

Principles of conventional photodetectors and photon counting

Time of Flight measurement
Time of Flight (ToF) measurement is a method for determining the distance between a sensor and another object. Distance is measured based on how quickly light emitted from a light source, travelling at light-speed (300,000 km/s), reflects off the target object and returns to the sensor.
Because light travels at such incredibly fast speed, distance calculation using the ToF method must be performed in a span of between 1 nanosecond (one billionth of a second) and one picosecond (one trillionth of a second)—and therefore requires an optical sensor capable of responding to such a high-speed regime with precision.

The sensor also features a high time resolution as precise as 100 picoseconds, enabling to determine the exact timing at which a photon reaches a pixel with ultra-high accuracy. Leveraging this functionality, the sensor is capable of Time of Flight distance measurement. When utilizing ToF measurement by equipping a light-emitting device (or camera using a specialized sensor) with a SPAD image sensor, the time duration between pulse light being directed at an object and the light returning to the sensor is used to determine the physical distance between the sensor and the subject. SPAD image sensors utilizing the ToF method can be easily installed on various devices and can measure depth information including 3D distance with extraordinary precision, even in dark environments. This capability holds the promise of use in such applications as distance measurement between vehicles for self-driving automobiles and grasping 3D spatial information for xR and similar devices.

News Source: Canon Global

15 June 2020

Canon Sponsored and Participated In the Virtual 15th Annual Japan Center Essay Competition Awards Program

Canon Sponsored and Participated In the Virtual 15th Annual Japan Center Essay Competition Awards Program
Canon U.S.A. Sponsored and Participated In the Virtual 15th Annual Japan Center Essay Competition Awards Program

Organized by Japan Center at Stony Brook University, the Essay Competition Awarded Seven Students Who Showcased Awareness and Understanding of Japanese Culture in Relation to Their Views and Future Goals

MELVILLE, NY, June 15, 2020 – Continuing to support education and youth, Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, sponsored and participated in the 15th Annual Japan Center Essay Competition Awards Program on June 13, 2020. With the program promoting awareness and understanding of Japanese culture in the United States while helping young Americans broaden their international horizons, seven students were awarded prizes including Canon products for their thought-provoking essays. Canon U.S.A., Inc. and the Japan Center at Stony Brook University have a longstanding partnership, which began in 2005 by former President and Chief Executive Officer of Canon U.S.A., Inc., the late Mr. Kinya Uchida. The Essay Competition, now in its 15th year, is an example of this partnership. Canon U.S.A., Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Kazuto Ogawa spoke at the virtual awards ceremony and congratulated the winners.

“At Canon U.S.A. Inc., we firmly personify Canon’s corporate philosophy of Kyosei which means ‘all people, regardless of race, religion or culture, harmoniously living and working together into the future.’ We believe we have a responsibility to give back to the communities in which we live and work as well as support and foster education among the youth,” Mr. Ogawa said. “Our support of the 15th Annual Japan Center Essay Competition at Stony Brook University is just one example. I’m proud of the work of the Japan Center as well as all the students who authored such passionate essays showcasing their understanding of Japanese culture and further spreading our Kyosei message.”

There were 167 essays submitted by students from high school to college undergraduates in the New York metropolitan area. Each essay focused on one or more aspects of Japan including art, culture, tradition, history and society, which connected to their personal experiences, views, and/or future goals. Selected by a committee of judges, the seven winners received awards including a Canon EOS or PowerShot camera. The winners are:

High School Division Winners:
First Place winner: Nathaniel Goodyear, Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts
Second Place winner: Rebecca L. Smith, The Brearley School
Third Place winner: Jenny Huang, Stuyvesant High School

College Division Winner:
First Place winner: Sailesh Srinivas, Stony Brook University

Uchida Memorial Award:
Lynca Saito, Stuyvesant High School

Special A Award:
Hannah Mirando, Cornell University

Special B Award:
Kelly Su, Brooklyn Technical High School

“Canon U.S.A. has been a committed partner in supporting us to promote education and research in the study of Japanese culture,” said Dr. Iwao Ojima, the President of the Japan Center at Stony Brook University. “The purpose of the Japan Center at Stony Brook University is to create a bridge between the university and the local community to promote education, research and cultural activities related to Japan and we could not be more proud of this year’s essay competition and the sponsorship from Canon U.S.A.”

The first Japan Center Essay Competition, organized by Stony Brook University in New York and supported by Canon U.S.A., was held during the 2005-2006 school year. Since its inaugural year, there have been 3,076 submissions from 243 schools. This educational program can promote inclusion and encourage people to appreciate different cultures and ideas.

Each of the winning essays can be found on the Japan Center’s website.

Create and Print COVID-19 Related Signage Through Canon’s PosterArtist Software

Create and Print COVID-19 Related Signage Through Canon’s PosterArtist Software
Create and Print Informational COVID-19 Related Signage Through Canon’s PosterArtist Software and imagePROGRAF Large Format Printers

MELVILLE, NY, June 15, 2020 – Aligning with the company’s commitment to supporting the needs of its customers, especially in these unprecedented times, Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, is excited to announce that imagePROGRAF customers can now download and customize templates to print signage and posters highlighting COVID-19 safety guidelines, as currently recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)*, using its PosterArtist/PosterArtist Lite software. As 76 percent of Americans say the quality and graphics of the print has the ability to gain consumer attention1, by displaying these prints, businesses can effectively communicate with their customers through informative signage designed to help keep the public aware of safety directives as they begin to reopen.

Not only can businesses utilize the designs already created within the software, they also have the flexibility to personalize the templates to include their brand name and messaging, or even create their own images. Available in 13 languages, the software includes templates that are ideal for wall and floor displays, as well as signs for a variety of venues and applications to provide customers with safety information, including instructions on hand washing, wearing face coverings, social distancing, and other directives as currently recommended by the CDC. These signs can also be used by retail and hospitality businesses to help promote details specific to their business, such as curbside pickup, hours of operations and maximum capacity, as well as educational institutions to promote safety practices and directional signage.

“As a long-term Canon imagePROGRAF customer, PosterArtist has played a great impact in displaying signage and posters to decorate our school’s halls for years, and these new templates offered through the software will become especially important as we begin to reopen,” said Phil Pempin, superintendent, Vermillion School District. “The safety of our students and faculty is our utmost priority. We look forward to utilizing the new templates offered through PosterArtist and Canon’s technology to encourage our students and faculty to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines as suggested by the CDC as we settle into our new normal.”

With a large variety of templates, photos, and clip-art to choose from, Canon’s PosterArtist Lite software is available as a download at no additional charge to provide customers with the tools to create and print high-quality images, posters, and office documents. From letter size flyers to large-scale banners, customers who have downloaded PosterArtist Lite, or purchased the full version of the PosterArtist software, can also easily print high-quality content with certain compatible Canon printers, which include select imageRUNNER ADVANCE, imageCLASS, imagePRESS/imagePRESS Lite C165, PIXMA devices, and imagePROGRAF printers2. Additionally, through a combination of Canon’s PosterArtist/PosterArtist Lite software, LUCIA PRO/TD Pigment Ink and water resistant media, customers can easily produce and design prints and informational materials for their businesses.

“As businesses begin to reopen, the text and graphics of printed materials and signage can serve as a vital element in effective communication that can help keep the public safe,” said Shinichi Yoshida, executive vice president and general manager, Canon U.S.A., Inc. “Reflecting Canon’s commitments to innovation and developing solutions to meet current market and customer needs, we’re proud to continue expanding our PosterArtist offering to provide our customers with a solution equipped to produce signage that is designed to help encourage customer safety in these challenging times.”

PosterArtist Lite is available for download (PC only), and the full version, PosterArtist (PC only) software, is also available for purchase separately at MSRP $395**. Several designs specific to COVID-19 safety guidelines are available now, and others will be released over the next few weeks.

Canon News Source>> Canon USA

Popular Posts