ISSCC typically packs a few papers from the left field of silicon research. This year’s event sports at least two in sensors.
A group of researchers from four universities will present a smart shoe that helps walkers find their way when GPS signals are not available. It combines a MEMS sensor array, a low-power interface ASIC and a nine-axis inertial measurement unit embedded in the heel of a boot to deliver position accuracy of 5.5 meters over a 3.1 km distance.
Separately, researchers from South Korea will show how they packed a 360-degree camera into an ingestible capsule. They used four cameras and a set of distributed “body-channel” transceivers to create an 80Mbit/s link to the capsule that delivers four frames/s at VGA resolution and can locate the capsule to within less than a centimeter.
Session organizers said it marks the first such device with wireless telemetry. It “increases the patient’s autonomy and reduces health care costs significantly by facilitating cloud-based remote patient monitoring,” they added.
In more conventional sensors, Sony and Microsoft will push the limits of CMOS imagers and time-of-flight cameras.
Sony will describe a 1.46MP BSI global shutter CMOS image sensor expected to be used for scientific and industrial applications. It employs an in-pixel ADC thanks to 3D stacking techniques that Sony’s imagers continue to pioneer.
For its part, Microsoft will present a 1024×1024 time-of-flight image sensor made in a TSMC 65nm process. Organizers said it sports the smallest pixels and highest resolution for such products routinely used in gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality and the Internet of Things.
Interestingly, TSMC will show a new architecture for a CMOS imager aimed to increase video frame rates four- to nine-fold. The 13.5MP 3D-stacked sensor uses a bank of column ADCs, and is likely a showcase of the company’s CMOS imager process.
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