FROM PHOTONS TO iPHONES: INNOVATIONS IN IMAGING - Imaging has been an activity of utmost importance to humankind since the earliest of times. From the Lascaux caves to the latest iPhone, people have always needed to record memories and document the everyday. The process of capturing photons and having them interact with photosensitive matter was invented centuries ago with the “Camera Obscura,” planting the seed for the advent of photography, cinema, and social media. Our intense reliance on photos and videos in our daily activities drives innovation, investment – and multiple new functions for image sensors.

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SEEING LIKE SEMICONDUCTORS FROM MULTISPECTRAL IMAGING TO MACHINE VISION

From chemical-based to electronic Charged Coupled Device-based (CCD) devices, the imaging industry was deeply disrupted almost 40 years ago by the arrival of CMOS Image Sensor (CIS) technology. It provides better image quality through digital output, pixel-level control, as well as higher quantum efficiency and reduced noise.

This inflexion point has been the start of the proliferation of CIS. Combined with ever-evolving camera modules, lenses and dedicated data processors, a complete supply chain has been created. Hundreds of companies came together to deliver the most advanced camera modules for visible imaging, as well as newer developments such as thermal photography, 3D sensing, and event-based imaging.

These capabilities are adding new growth avenues for the imaging industry, by taking full benefit of the existing technology and production infrastructure to provide new functionalities.

Our vision

AT THE FOCAL POINT OF CMOS IMAGE SENSOR TRENDS

Yole Group’s imaging teams have been covering the field since 2003. They help you understand the market technology, applications, manufacturing and competitive landscape. Thanks to the physical analysis of imaging modules and components through teardowns, cost analysis and performances analysis, we provide you with the best up-to-date data and analyses of the imaging industry. Our image sensor market research is available through our different products, such as annual reports, custom reports and quarterly market monitors.

We also follow the evolution of the technologies selected by the leading OEMs, and with a strong focus on smartphones. With a dedicated team, we propose detailed teardowns of recent products from Apple, Samsung, Huawei, etc. These analyses include power measurements, detailed parts lists, block diagrams, x-rays, and high-resolutions photos. Each step of the teardown process is well documented.

Yole Group presents detailed insights into component parts and costs, as well as chip system functionality.
From equipment to systems, from X-ray to SWIR, from image sensors to lensed camera modules, actuators to optical components, the imaging team’s daily work is to understand and analyze meaningful CMOS imaging technology trends, supply chain evolutions, market and application disruptions and the strategy of the leading CMOS imaging companies. What you get is the best picture of imaging market and technology research to serve your needs.

Our analysis extends to the deep technological changes and the impact of the imaging industry on the consumer market – with everyday systems like smartphones, drones, and personal robotics – and the automotive and mobility market – through ADAS vehicles and robotic shuttles. We also investigate the medical and industrial markets and the defense and security markets. And just as all the above require different applications to suit their needs, Yole Group provides you with carefully designed products to best suit yours.

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IMAGING TECHNOLOGIES: A REAL PANDORA’S BOX

Yole Group goes beyond imaging in just the visible domain. For many years, the key aspect of imaging was to electronically capture photographic or moving images.
Most of the industry has now switched to much broader endeavors encompassing imaging and sensing. With the advent of 3D, multispectral, event-based sensing and quantum imaging, the attendant supply chain is also seeing a host of changes.
These include the use of multiple Back Side Illumination (BSI), stacking of multiple wafers, and dyes with hybrid bonding, intended to process and store data very close to the imaging layers. A veritable Pandora’s box has been opened and it will not stop there…
We help you explore the imaging world, with a deep understanding of the technologies’ status including performance analysis of visible and infrared image sensors, as well as teardown and reverse-engineering of the most advanced camera modules and sensors.

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CMOS IMAGING TECHNOLOGY IN THE SPOTLIGHT OF THE SEMICONDUCTOR MARKET

Over the past 20 years, the miniaturization of CIS has led to an incredible growth of the CIS business through big players like Sony, Samsung, OmniVision, Onsemi, and STMicroelectronics. This took place most noticeably in the consumer arena through smartphones, but also across a long list of electronic systems, with newer applications benefitting from CIS advancements every year. Today, over 7 billion units of image sensors and camera modules are manufactured each year, and 90% of those are CMOS-based.

The highly technology-driven imaging market represents 5% of the over $500-billion semiconductor market and is now an important part of our day-to-day life.

It is the nexus of plentiful, constant improvements, changing supply chain and causing critical repercussions on materials, devices, manufacturing steps and applications.

Key Drivers

SMARTPHONES: WHY HAVE ONE CMOS IMAGE SENSOR WHEN YOU CAN HAVE SIX?

Year after year, the need for multiple CMOS image sensors in mobile phones and cars is pushing the technology to new heights.

CMOS image sensors provide an accurate and cheap way to visualize and understand what is happening around an object, prompting the use of image sensors in all products or situations where such features are needed – such as counting people in shops, or detecting fevers in airports.

Taking pictures from the front and back of the devices, 3D face recognition and AR/VR functionalities, night vision – all are examples of applications pushing the use of image sensors in a mobile phone, with more than six CMOS image sensors to be implemented per phone.

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INFRARED, THERMAL AND XRAY IMAGING: NEW AREAS OF GROWTH FOR IMAGING AND SENSING

There is a world beyond visible imaging. X-ray, infrared (including NIR and SWIR) and thermal imaging: all are imaging methods that are driving a host of applications and growing business opportunities. By re-using semiconductor processes, they can deliver now new functionalities.