Hitachi Ltd developed a new image-sensing technology to reduce the size and cost of cameras for its "social innovation" business.
With the new technology, the company aims to take images in more locations, collect them as data, analyze them by using AI (artificial intelligence), etc and use them as valuable data.
Effective in automotive, monitoring applications
The new technology eliminates the need for an optical lens by combining an existing image sensor and image data processing. It uses a thin film with a thickness of, for example, several tens of micromillimeters in place of a lens. There is a concentric pattern on the film, and the pattern and image data processing function as a lens.
The technology is expected to reduce the size and cost of cameras by eliminating a lens, which accounts for most of the size and cost of a camera. Especially, it is useful in making a large image sensor capable of taking images in dark environments for monitoring cameras or automotive applications because it enables to replace multiple (thick) large-diameter lenses with a thin film.
The distance between the surface of an image sensor and the film is about 1mm, making it possible to drastically reduce thickness, compared with a case where a lens is used.
It is also possible to focus on a desired point after taking an image. This is possible because of the processing method used to reproduce images from data that the image sensor collects via the film.