Panasonic Corp developed a 2.1-Mpixel CMOS image sensor for camera systems capable of taking 3D movie with a single lens and announced it at ISSCC 2013 (thesis number: 27.8).
Traditionally, two lenses and two CMOS sensors are required to take 3D video. But Panasonic enabled to do it with a single lens and a CMOS image sensor.
For taking 3D video, it is necessary to separate light into light entering the left eye and light entering the right eye and to make sure that the two types of lights come to different pixels of the CMOS sensor. To realize this, Panasonic employed a structure that combines a lenticular lens and mirror elements (digital micro lenses: DMLs) made by forming patterns whose size is smaller than light wavelength with a lithography technology.
The lights separated by the lenticular lens are collected with the DMLs to increase their intensities. Then, they enter the pixels of the CMOS sensor. With this structure, the light entering the left eye and the light entering the right eye do not interfere with each other much. Therefore, the intensities of the lights become high enough.
The received signals obtained in this way are processed via line memory to create 3D video.
When Panasonic calculated a distance between objects from an image taken by the new CMOS sensor, the difference between the calculated distance and the actual distance was less than 5%. The CMOS sensor enables to take 3D video of objects that are located within about 1m from the lens.
Currently, Panasonic is planning to apply the CMOS sensor to industrial and mobile devices, expecting that products equipped with the sensor will debut in 2014.