Sony breaks new ground with camera sensors curved like the human eye
Compared to traditional flat sensors, the new curved CMOS sensor is 1.4 times more sensitive to light in its center and an impressive 2 times more sensitive at the edges, according to a report at the Symposium on VLSI Technology in Hawaii, delivered by Kazuichiro Itonaga, a device manager for Sony R&D Platform in Atsugi-shi, Japan.
The pure geometry of a curved sensor allows it to be used with a flatter lens, with a higher aperture, a key factor in allowing more light to pass to the sensor. The most obvious advantage of the curvature, however, is that light can now hit photodiodes more directly rather than obliquely. In addition, the curved form results in reductions to the noise from current flowing through a pixel even when its not receiving any external light (the so called “dark current”).
Sony uses a sophisticated process with a custom “bending machine” to flex the sensor and achieve a human retina-grade curvature. Itonaga specified that the machine first bends the sensor, but it’s also fortified with a ceramic coating after the bending for stability.
Sony's new curved CMOS sensor could improve camera light sensitivity up to 2 times
Being a new sensor that requires a new system of lenses, it is a great fit for devices like smartphones with a fixed-focus (prime) lens, and no interchangeable lens support. Sony already showed one of a few if not the only compatible lens (a prime lens), at the presentation, and it also demonstrated an image shot with the new system.
Best of all, all of this innovation is not just in patent imagination land - Sony has already manufactured around 100 full-size sensors with their custom bending machine.
20. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6684; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)
I just hope SONY won't sell this camera to Apple.
21. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3204; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
You mean like selling the whole technology or just letting them use it?
33. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3204; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
Well why would they sell the whole technology to them...?
49. techperson211 (Posts: 707; Member since: 27 Feb 2014)
Well 1 thing for sure they'll not sell them they already patented it. I think all other company will just pay for royalty. Most OEM use Sony camera on their phones.
36. akki20892 (Posts: 3621; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)
This Sony curve lens and huge Nokia 41mp sensor..... Just imagine.......
41. spiderpig2894 (Posts: 438; Member since: 10 Jan 2012)
Uhm. It's a curved SENSOR. Not curved LENS.
47. zhiae (Posts: 179; Member since: 26 Aug 2012)
Im not expecting this in a phone cuz it will be thik but i say cristal lenses is the way not curved sensor
48. techperson211 (Posts: 707; Member since: 27 Feb 2014)
Innovation at it's finest!! Kudos Sony. I will expect this to your Z4-Z5
2. hipnotika (Posts: 305; Member since: 06 Mar 2013)
maybe with this tech, they will give us quality photos.
3. CyberFalcon (Posts: 171; Member since: 17 Apr 2014)
combine this sensor with a ground breaking OIS Technology and show them the u r the king of all smartphone cameras...
23. Bjray (Posts: 98; Member since: 29 May 2014)
Better yet, use this plus MEMS focusing system.
26. shuaibhere (Posts: 1660; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)
Sony always had best lenses...but their post processing is what sucks...
I hope they improve on that aspect...
And not to take credit away...
This is real innovation....
4. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3204; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
Imitating the nature is the best way of engineering! After all, nature has slowly tested the best possible solutions for billions of years!'
Can't wait to see how this works :D
11. mrblah (Posts: 528; Member since: 22 Jan 2013)
"Imitating is the best way of engineering!" -Samsung
16. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3204; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
lol They imitate something else though ;)
27. shuaibhere (Posts: 1660; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)
Lol...you dunno how innovative is samsung....
They innovate on the basics of technology...like DRAM, and in data transfer....
But unfortunately they all come under FRAND...which is sad..because without that smartphone wouldn't work...
Unlike the fancy slide to unlock...
5. KenAdams (Posts: 55; Member since: 17 Feb 2014)
Sony and Nokia/Microsoft are the only companies who take their cameras seriously. Kudos to Sony!
6. hunted (Posts: 348; Member since: 21 Sep 2011)
great work Sony. Love your products including my PS3 and Bravia TV
9. hipnotika (Posts: 305; Member since: 06 Mar 2013)
ps4 ? :D that's amazing. now i am not playing game on pc or on mobile anymore :D
7. PapaSmurf (Posts: 8840; Member since: 14 May 2012)
I'm actually really excited to see how this pans out. Props to Sony.
8. rency0722 (Posts: 68; Member since: 12 Jun 2013)
Spoiling the math, 11 inches diagonal measures 0.43307 inches, which is equal to 1/2.3" sensor, the same exact size of current Xperia Z2 camera.
13. hmmm... (Posts: 61; Member since: 05 Jun 2013)
Sigh!!! It seems that people who actually care and know about cameras are very few. I don't even consider myself an amateur photographer, but even I know that when it concern sensor size, the diameter of the tube is taken. You have to multiply your number by about 1.5. When an advert says a 1 inch sensor, it does not mean that the sensor's diameter is 1 inch. It is the tube's diameter. Maybe this link will help, read the first two pharagraph. 11mm is housed in a 2/3inch tube.
30. refillable (Posts: 652; Member since: 10 Mar 2014)
That means the new 'curved sensor' has the same sensor size as the Nokia 1020's sensor.
10. mokhtar (Posts: 265; Member since: 06 Jan 2014)
Sony = innovation, the only company who push hard, dont tell me htc or samsung ( apple.died years ago ;()
18. ArtSim98 (Posts: 3204; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)
Not the only one. There are many other innovative companies too out there.
14. InspectorGadget80 (Posts: 6684; Member since: 26 Mar 2011)
Truly innovation. Love my EXMOR camera. I just hope Sony won't sell that technology to the big fruit.
19. RandomUsername (Posts: 529; Member since: 29 Oct 2013)
Yes! We need that sensor in the Z3!
45. vuyonc (Posts: 343; Member since: 24 Feb 2014)
Now just slap on hybrid autofocus that's nearly as fast as your a6000 camera, a BIONZ X processor, WhiteMagic 1080p display and you can have my wallet!
32. starandmountain (Posts: 51; Member since: 01 Apr 2012)
very nice story to read! I wish there were more articles explaining things in mobile phones. Even about the smallest things in smartphones that are in every smartphone. Just to understand the complete phone. I'm following this site for quite long and i miss stories like this one. There is still one thing that I don't really understand, to some of us here it will sound very stupid. Here comes the question: How does the connection between software and hardware works? I know that there a programs in which you can code (obviously) but i just don't get it how hardware can 'read' these codes. Can someone explain it to me?
37. justsayit (Posts: 229; Member since: 09 May 2013)
Inspired by Curved TV?
Anyway, BIG Thumb Up for Sony!
38. Lyngdoh (Posts: 225; Member since: 06 Sep 2012)
No, inspired by the human eye.
I just hope that this sensors will be exclusive to Xperia smartphones.
39. justsayit (Posts: 229; Member since: 09 May 2013)
i hate exclusive thing, it should be on every smartphone,not everyone like sony product