First RGBC sensor with always-on capability

1 min read

OmniVision Technologies has released the OV32C, a 32 megapixel (MP) image sensor in a compact 1/3.2-inch optical format (OF) for the next generation front-facing mobile phone 'selfie' cameras.

RGBC technology is built into the sensor to provide high quality images in challenging lighting conditions. The OV32C’s low power modes can help enable 'always-on' user experiences by facilitating artificial intelligence (AI) processing to automate many of the common tasks of the camera, such as face detection, QR code scans, etc.

OmniVision has enhanced the overall user experience with the OV32C so that users have faster access to their camera functionality at all times. The OV32C low power modes help enable ‘always-on’ features optimising the phone’s back-end AI applications, while minimising power and data rate usage.

The OV32C is built on OmniVision’s 0.7µm PureCel Plus-S pixel technology that provides the ability to squeeze 32MP into a 1/3.2-inch OF. RGBC technology uses a 4-cell colour filter pattern with clear pixels and on-chip RGBC-to-Bayer fusion. It supports CPHY and DPHY interfaces and can output 15 frame rates per second (fps) at 32MP, or 30 fps at 8MP with on-chip fusion, for premium video and image quality. The OV32C also offers dual DOVDD support at 1.8 and 1.2 volts.

“Mobile phone users need the highest possible image quality and resolution from their cameras, but the design challenge is that there is very limited space for the front-facing camera module. Our new OV32C addresses this issue by providing 1/2.8-inch pixel size performance in a compact 1/3.2-inch OF,” said Arun Jayaseelan, staff marketing manager at OmniVision. “It is our first sensor for the mobile phone market to feature RGBC, providing a 50% boost in overall sensitivity to enhance low-light image quality. Additionally, we’ve reduced design complexity for OEMs with an on-chip RGBC-to-Bayer fusion algorithm, therefore, a separate RGBC processing unit isn’t required.”

“Image sensors for front facing ‘selfie’ cameras are expected to grow 4.7% CAGR over the next five years, with smartphone front camera image sensor revenues reaching $4.4 billion by 2026,” said Pierre Cambou, principal analyst, Imaging at Yole Développement. “Stacking technology is giving more degrees of freedom to image sensor designers to embed advanced pre-ISP algorithms; this could be a game changer for RGBC sensors by solving the difficulties of their non-Bayer arrangement. Adding ‘always-on’ smart capabilities to phone cameras will bring a new level of ergonomics and performance to the phone’s user interface.”