Sony announces next-generation image sensors for smartphones, digital cameras

The Japanese tech giant says its new sensors will take better pictures while cutting manufacturing costs and chip size

Sony said Monday it has developed new technology for the tiny imaging chips that power cameras in portable devices, which will allow for clearer photographs while using less space and cutting manufacturing costs.

The company said it has developed a method for building CMOS sensors, widely used in mobile phones and digital cameras, that will reduce their surface area and allow imaging circuitry to be produced separately from the supporting logic. Sony said it will also add new technology to reduce picture distortion in dark scenes and allow videos to capture a wider range of light.

Sample shipments of image sensors that use the new manufacturing method will begin from March, with mass production to start in the fall. The new imaging technologies will be introduced into broad production late this year or early next, the company said.

"Initially we will work to insure that these sensors can be used in all smartphones," said Yasuhiro Ueda, an executive in Sony's image sensor division. "After we have achieved success with phones, we are planning to expand into areas such as audio-visual products, surveillance and manufacturing."

Ueda spoke to reporters at a press conference in Tokyo, where the company showed demonstrations of the clearer images and video it said can be produced with the new chips.

While Sony has an extensive line of digital cameras and smartphones of its own, it is also a major supplier of advanced image sensors for such products. Teardown reports have shown that the company's imaging chips are used in the iPhone 4S, and Apple listed Sony as a supplier in its corporate responsibility report issued earlier this month.

Sony's new manufacturing process layers image sensors on top of supporting logic using separate, stacked chips, as opposed to the current method of arraying both imaging and logic side by side on the same chip. This will create sensors with a smaller area while giving more space to processing logic, and allow for the two components to be produced independently.

Ueda said Sony could outsource the logic portion while focusing more on the image sensors, one of its strengths.

The company also said it would add white-light image sensors to the traditional red, green and blue found on such chips, providing better clarity to photos taken in low lighting. It will also increase the dynamic range of video recordings, allowing light sources of varying brightness to be captured in the same scene.

Sony has rarely held press conferences for its raw technology and components in the past, focusing instead on complete consumer products. But it is making an effort to maintain its reputation as a cutting-edge tech company as it gives up market share to massive rivals like Samsung and innovators like Apple.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Bitdefender solutions stop attacks before they even begin! Get cybersecurity that 500 MILLION users already have and trust.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?