Micron intros improved image sensors for automotive applications

Image sensors are reaching into new volume markets beyond the digital camera, Micron one of the leading suppliers of CMOS-based image sensors, today announced the MT9V125 sensor which complements the firms existing portfolio and promises to enhance picture and video quality.

According to the manufacturer, the sensor is capable of delivering video at 30 frames per second (fps) for NTSC video systems or 25 fps for PAL video systems. Compared to a regular CMOS image sensor that may be used in a cellphone or digital camera, automotive sensors are much more robust: Micron claims that the chips can withstand a temperature range between -40 and 105 degrees Celsius (-40 to 221 degrees F). The life time of such a sensor is estimated to reach about 10 to 15 years - with aging effects being limited mainly to color fading.

While image sensors are already used in luxury cars, motor homes and some trucks today, Micron believes that the automotive market will develop to be another volume segment for its products. Quoting analysts, the company told TG Daily that there will be 4 - 10 cameras per car by 2015. Rearview cameras and lane departure warning systems are already available, but other functions are being prepared: Micron says that image sensors can contribute to energy savings - for example by replacing rearview mirrors on semi trucks - and increase driving safety by automatically dimming the brightness of headlamps.

Image sensors also are believed to bring "video black box" functionality to cars, by video recording and replaying the circumstances of accidents.