Custom Camera Module Design

PieSoft’s research and development (R&D) department delivered a cost-effective camera module design to meet a customer’s unique need to efficiently capture high-quality images in low-light conditions.

Background

Taking photos in low light presents many challenges for cameras, especially for low-cost, user-customizable,
high-quality solutions. Our customer reached out to us to develop a compact, cost-effective camera module.
The prime requirement was to create a camera moddule with an image sensor that can be easily fabricated and improve on many of the limitations of current off-the-shelf optical tools presented in the market, including image quality in low-light and limited-visibility conditions.

Challenge

The main disadvantage of current cost-effective cameras is low-light sensitivity and poorly built-in optics, which cause distortions and color noise on output images. Our PieSoft team’s challenge was to find a compact, cost-effective solution for capturing high-quality images in low-light conditions.

Solution

We designed a camera module based on the Sony Starvis image sensor. A flexible camera solution is based on a powerful image sensor without unnecessary options, and with image processing moved to an external processor module. Our solution: create output resolution up to 4K; use CSI bus for data output; and make Camera Module compatible with V4L2 applications, Raspberry Pi boards, and C-CS mount high-quality lenses.

Development

We included several steps involving both embedded developers’ and hardware engineers’ expertise in image-sensor development.

1. Market analyzing

The customer allowed and relied fully on PieSoft’s expertise in the module design. Our team researched up-to-date solutions suggested by various semiconductor manufacturers, focusing on the component’s physical properties, cost, and implementation complexity.

2. Schematic design

The schematic design of the image-sensor module presented by the PieSoft team is based on high-quality and widely represented components, which are vital while the global semiconductor crisis is on the market. Circuitry takes into account mixed analog and digital types of the load.

3. PCB design

Printed circuit board (PCB) design brings electronic circuits to life in the physical form. We designed the printed circuit board according to high-speed data transfer and power distribution requirements. The PCB contains a minimum number of layers to reduce manufacturing costs.

4. Manufacturing prototypes

We assembled a small series of modules within the manufacturing possibilities of our lab. All requirements by humidity and temperature for mounting of image sensors, and how the product could be manufactured in a state-of-the-art American manufacturing facility, were taken into account.

5. Linux kernel driver development

To have the possibility of interacting with hardware modules and handling routines, we developed the kernel driver for the Linux system. The driver provides media pads compatible with the V4L2 framework and allows receipt of images and metadata and control of the sensor by I2C bus.

6. Integration with camera software

Based on an open-source framework, the software was modified and calibrated for use with the module. It implements functions of taking photos and capturing video streams, calculates necessary feedback data for the image sensor, and applies post-process algorithms

Application

The camera module delivered by our team is a high-end image sensor integrated with an electronics control unit, lens, and digital signal processor. Camera Module may be widely used across various monitoring systems/recognition systems/optical control systems that include:

Finance & Retail

Health & Nutrition

Warehousing & Security

Traffic & Logistics

Industrial Inspection

Home & Entertainment

Result

Our R&D PieSoft team provided a cost-effective solution with an image sensor that can spearhead development of low-cost, high-speed cameras for image capture in extreme low-light conditions. The minor associated development costs for our customer resulted in a significant return on investment, creating more opportunities in the future. The solution has become a prime competitive edge and security for our customer’s success.

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