Space-Variant Visual Sensor with Color Acquisition (SVAVISCA)

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ESPRIT Long Term Research Project No. 31951

Project Synopsis

The use of space-variant visual sensors in image communication and processing is gaining more and more attention as a simple and direct way of reducing the visual information transmitted and/or processed while preserving both high resolution and a wide field of view.

At present two different implementations of the space-variant concept have been realized at IMEC in collaboration with DIST. The first of such sensors was fabricated using CCD technology (the chip contained about 2,000 photocells) in 1989 The second, using CMOS technology and about 8,000 photocells, has been designed and fabricated within a EU-supported project (TIDE project IBIDEM P1038).

During the first phase of SVAVISCA the monochromatic CMOS sensor was modified to allow color acquisition.

Due to the success of the first phase the objective of the second phase SVAVISCA project is to realize a miniature, color CMOS space-variant camera with a lens allowing at least 140 field of view and with the maximum number of pixels allowed by a 0.35mm technology. This project is a further step toward the long term technological and scientific goal of building an electronic camera with a number of pixels, a spatial arrangement, and a field of view comparable to that of the human eye. This is pursued through the integrated design of the solid state sensor, the lens and the driving electronics in a miniature device.

The main technological challenge of the project is to exploit the latest technology of CMOS sensor’s design (0.35 mm) and its limitations, without compromising with the main feature of the retina-like arrangement, namely, an efficient compromise between resolution and amplitude of the field of view. To achieve this result the initial part of the project will be devoted to the re-design of the sensor's layout taking into consideration, besides the geometric layout of the sensor, the practical constraints among which the physical size of the chip and the size of the smallest photosite are the most important. At present 24,000 to 30,000 pixels seems a reasonable figure allowing a 3 to 4 times increase with respect to the current CMOS chip which has 8,013 pixels.

The miniature camera will be the result of an integrated design whose main components will be:

Target applications are in multimedia communication and video telephony, remote surveillance and monitoring, computer vision and robotics.

Contact Person

Prof. Giulio Sandini tel. +39-010-353.2779
DIST - University of Genova fax +39-010-353.2154
Via Opera Pia, 13 e-mail:
16145 Genova - Italy


Participants Role (Nation) Principal Investigators
DIST Coordinator (Italy) Giulio Sandini
IMEC Partner (Belgium) Bart Dierickx, Danny Scheffer
Unitek Consortium Partner (Italy) Paolo Questa, Andrea Mannucci