Although camera components like CCD and infrared sensors have reached a level of maturity, imaging features continue to evolve. Analysts from the San Francisco, CA-based business consulting firm Grand View Research spoke with P&IT about current camera technology's most exciting capabilities, applications, and leaders.

Ajinkya Ponkshe, Senior Research Analyst – Semiconductors (Grand View Research)
Thadhani Jagdish, Research Analyst – Information & Communications Technology (Grand View Research)

Photonics & Imaging Technology: What is the future for both CCD and CMOS technologies?

Ajinkya Ponkshe: The CMOS image sensor technology is expected to witness a considerable growth because of its low cost, compact nature, and low power consumption. The increasing use of optical molecular imaging techniques in developed countries is expected to generate high growth prospects for CMOS image sensors. Additionally, the growing market of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) in the automotive sector is also expected to favorably influence the segment growth in the years to come.

On the other hand, CCD is a mature technology that is likely to witness a portfolio of limited applications, such as products that require an extra-sensitive Electron Multiplying CCD. CCD sensors are primarily developed as compact image sensors for the industrial and consumer markets. The grids present in CCDs are used in video cameras, optical scanners, and digital cameras as light-sensing devices.

P&IT: Has infrared imaging technology reached its peak?

Ajinkya Ponkshe: Though the infrared technology is at its maturity stage, it will witness gradual growth prospects on account of the rising deployment in the IR cameras and IR imaging fields, such as IR lens systems, sensors, and detectors. Furthermore, the technology will find opportunities owing to growing sale economies in home automation, security, and gas & fire detection solicitations.

P&IT: Where is digital camera technology being used?

Ajinkya Ponkshe: Digital cameras are expected to witness a significant growth owing to features such as higher resolution, secure transmission, ability to cover more distance, high-speed recording, and lower cable cost.

The rate of adoption of video surveillance IP cameras is high in the Asia Pacific region, which may be attributed to the presence of low-cost camera manufacturers in China and increased spending on infrastructure and development initiatives, such as smart city projects, in India. Factors, however, such as the need for higher bandwidth and higher initial cost per camera may limit the use of digital cameras.

P&IT: What kinds of features in cameras are most exciting to you? How has camera technology changed?

Thadhani Jagdish: With the help of novel device-designing techniques, cameras have become more portable than ever. The modern day has witnessed the incorporation of laser focusing and detection sensors into different technologies that eliminate the need for the shutter button on cameras.

Features such as voice recognition and gesture recognition have further promoted the incorporation of the digital camera technology into various smart glasses. The smart glasses record data with a voice or gesture activation command. The miniaturization of the camera technology and its collaboration with other high-tech gadgets, such as [the eyewear], have brought about a dynamic phase change in the camera usage trend witnessed to date.

P&IT: What characterizes “technology leaders” in today's camera market?

Thadhani Jagdish: The innovation in camera technologies is broadly based on the type and potential of electronic constituents used, including sensors, microprocessors, microcontrollers, and ICs. Some of the contemporary technologies, such as IR thermal imaging, 3D depth sensing, 4K pixel, and panoramic imaging, are anticipated to revolutionize the camera industry in the coming years.

The present-day camera manufacturers have introduced innovative features, such as built-in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, direct interface to social networking sites and emails, 3G SIM card slots, wide screen touch screen interfaces, and dynamic operating systems support to run different applications on digital cameras like Android and iOS.

P&IT: What kinds of new applications are you seeing with imaging technology?

Thadhani Jagdish: The medical imaging market is anticipated to witness a significant growth in the near future because of its efficiency in diagnostic complex medical conditions. The rising prevalence of critical and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancers, increasing awareness of early diagnosis, and a growing number of diagnostics imaging procedures have advanced the demand for imaging systems in healthcare facilities.

3D imaging technology is widely accepted in the healthcare and medical industry for better visualization and improved imaging. The growing acceptance among radiologists and surgeons, and the increasing use of ultrasound 3D imaging in cardiology and oncology, have influenced the demand for the imaging market, which has consequently fueled the growth of image sensors.

Furthermore, the imaging technology is expected to witness a significant growth in the automotive sector, specifically in ADAS applications. ADAS uses image sensors to improve drivers’ safety by offering features such as lane departure warning, parking assistance, and collision avoidance.

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