Canon’s new image sensor can see in near total darkness | Smart News

Canon’s new SPAD sensors work by amplifying a single photon that enters the sensor pixels into large amounts of pulses of electrical energy. This allows the camera to see objects in low light areas.

Nicky Boogaard via Wikicommons under CC BY 2.0

cannon, the Japanese optical products company, is set to release a highly advanced image sensor that captures high-quality color images in near total darkness.

Launched in 2022, the sensor could revolutionize the digital imaging industry and pave the way for more advanced security system cameras, cameras for autonomous driving and augmented reality, Nikkei Asia reports.

Most digital cameras traditionally use a complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) image sensor, a device that acts as an electronic eye for the camera and allows it to individually capture pixel signals. CMOS sensors record the intensities of light as charges and then convert them into electrical signals. These sensors produce images based on the number of photons each pixel detects over a period of time. When more light is available, better photographs are produced.

Today’s night photography requires specific equipment and techniques, such as setting up a camera on a tripod with the shutter open longer to gather more light. While these techniques work for still photos, they’re not the best for capturing video footage, reports Andrew Liszewski for Gizmodo.

Canon has improved on existing technology called Single Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD), which enables the camera to capture large amounts of detail with only one-tenth the brightness required by other image sensors. Technology is an updated version of Canon prototype 1 megapixel SPAD image sensor introduced in 2020.

SPAD sensors work by amplifying a single photon that enters the sensor pixels into large amounts of electrical energy pulses, which then allows the camera to see objects in areas with small amounts of light, Gizmodo reports. Generating multiple electrons from a single photon gives greater sensitivity during image capture. Combined with 3.2 million pixels, the sensor provides the camera with extreme image clarity, PC Magazine Reporting by Matthew Humphries.

In addition to producing images in the dark, SPAD can determine distances between objects based on the time it takes light to reach the object, reflect off of it, and then return. This data can then be used to calculate the space between three-dimensional objects and generate models of the surrounding area, which could be useful for self-driving cars and navigation systems in the near future. Gizmodo reports.

The cost of SPAD sensors is about the same as that of producing CMOS sensors and requires the same manufacturing technology to manufacture, PC Magazine reports. Other companies also poised to enter the market with their own SPAD sensor technology include Panasonic and Sony, Nikkei Asia reports.

Michael C. Garrison