Samsung's latest spin on ISOCELL shifts camera tech from smartphones into autonomous vehicles

Promises better images, improved safety through 'CornerPixel' technology

Samsung's ISOCELL imaging sensor line-up is making a shift into the automotive industry as the company pledges to expand into autonomous vehicles and in-cabin camera systems.

ISOCELL was launched in 2013 as the hot new thing for smartphones and tablets: a camera sensor with "isolated cells," offering a claimed boost in colour fidelity in low-light conditions, a higher dynamic range, and a thinner package.

Since then the company has been refining the ISOCELL line-up with slimmer models, high-resolution models, and as of last month a version with the smallest pixels around. Always, though, with an eye on the smartphone and tablet markets.

Its latest ISOCELL, however, is the first to target the automotive industry – and heralds a planned expansion of the company's vehicular sensor range.

"The new ISOCELL Auto 4AC combines Samsung's innovative and market-proven image sensor technologies with a unique CornerPixel solution for advanced HDR [High Dynamic Range] and LFM [LED Flicker Mitigation capabilities, offering exceptional viewing experiences regardless of lighting conditions" claimed Duckhyun Chang, exec veep for Samsung's sensor business.

"Starting with the ISOCELL Auto 4AC, we plan to expand our automotive sensor line-up to areas such as camera monitor systems (CMS), autonomous driving, and in-cabin monitoring."

Samsung claims the automotive-specific ISOCELL Auto 4C offers "a safer driving experience" than rival sensors currently used in surround-view or rear-view installations, thanks to an enhanced field of view. The key new feature, though, is CornerCell: placing two photodiodes in a single pixel area, one 3µm for low-light conditions and one 1µm for brighter environments.

The two photodiodes work side-by-side, capturing images in two exposures simultaneously to offer 120dB high dynamic range without the ghosting and blurring common to single-sensor HDR processing. It's also at the heart of the company's LED flicker reduction system, with the smaller photodiodes automatically adjusting their exposure time to eliminate LED flicker above 90Hz.

The new ISOCELL Auto 4AC is being sold as a 1/3.7-inch 1.2-megapixel sensor with onboard image signal processor (ISP), offering a 1280x960 resolution. Pricing has not been disclosed – and neither have details of the next prong in the company's planned assault on the autonomous driving market. ®

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