Sony’s STARVIS technology: An innovative advancement in CMOS image sensor technology

Sony's Starvis Technology

As technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) provide better usability, performance, and a variety of applications, imaging technology is becoming more and more popular. The quality and performance of the imaging devices is becoming critical with each day. Starvis sensors belong to a product family from Sony that focusses on high performance requirements that requires very good low light quality, HDR and so on.

Even though this application is widely used, current advancements in sensor technology have made it superior to even its most recent predecessors. Surveillance cameras must be able to capture sharp images in a range of settings. The high sensitivity performance of Sony’s image sensors, which are appropriate for night-time cinematography, satisfies this necessity.

In this post, we will explore the latest Starvis CMOS image sensor from Sony and its features.

What is STARVIS Technology?

Sony’s STARVIS brand adds value in the area of sensitivity, which is regarded as the most important attribute of security cameras. Back-illuminated CMOS image sensors for security cameras become more sensitive due to STARVIS technology. The efficiency of STARVIS’s use of light is increased throughout a wide variety of wavelengths, enhancing the system’s sensitivity not just in the visible light spectrum but also in the near-infrared light spectrum, which is widely used by security cameras.

As a consequence, STARVIS accomplishes two or more times the sensitivity of the current CCD image sensor and reaches a sensitivity of 2,000 mV or more per 1 m2 pixel size.

Sony’s STARVIS: CMOS image Sensor with Back Illumination

Contrary to front-illuminated image sensors, back-illuminated image sensors capture images from the back side, where there are no wires or circuitry to obstruct the image. As a result, a greater range of light is collected on the photodiode, leading to high sensitivity.

This makes back-illuminated image sensors advantageous for low light conditions, allowing the camera to produce high-quality images with very low levels of illumination. In addition, back-illuminated image sensors have larger pixels than front-illuminated image sensors, making them more efficient and capable of capturing greater levels of detail. It also features an increased signal-to-noise ratio as well as a higher dynamic range. Furthermore, it employs the very first pixel, which was created specifically for security use in a back-illuminated structure.

It is essential to accurately capture both regions in security camera photographs where light and dark areas coexist. In order to meet this need, security camera visual recognition performance is improved due to Starvis technology, which makes it possible to clearly capture both the light and dark regions. This new technology was designed to take advantage of the capabilities of surveillance cameras in various applications, such as identifying faces and license plates.

Features of Sony STARVIS

There is no universal camera that can be used for all applications. However, each application has its own specific set of needs, ranging from low-cost instructional cameras to high-end machine-learning cameras that can function in extremely low light. Accordingly, the features and capabilities of cameras must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to ensure that they meet the requirements of each specific application.

Beyond the capabilities of the human eye

Images and other data are produced by image sensors by capturing light and converting it to electrical impulses. The ability of image sensors to take accurate pictures in low-light conditions is a key advantage. It is essential to detect the smallest light in the dark and convert it to electrical impulses effectively without permitting noise contamination in order to do this.

The goal of STARVIS technology is to produce an image of the target object through the realistic depiction of its shapes and colors from the very lightest light in a dark environment, such as a small alleyway without streetlights.

Greater Sensitivity to Near-Infrared and Visible Light

In order to work well day and night and in completely dark environments, security cameras need to be sensitive to near-infrared light and have adequate vision under low visible light illumination.

By employing a back-illuminated structure that increases sensitivity to visible light and technology that increases sensitivity to near-infrared light, STARVIS improves visibility. In comparison to the current same-pixel-size product with enhanced near-infrared light sensitivity that uses a front-illuminated structure, realizes two or more times the sensitivity in the visible light region and three or more times the sensitivity in the near-infrared light region (850 nm). Superior visibility is the end consequence.

Technology with increased sensitivity

Through a lens and a photodiode, light enters an image sensor and is transformed into electrical impulses. This photodiode’s efficiency at collecting light is what holds the secret to greater sensitivity.

The configuration of photodiodes affects how sensitive an image sensor is. In a front-illuminated structure, photodiodes are positioned below a wiring layer. The issue with this construction is that incident light is reflected or absorbed on the wiring layer before it reaches the photodiodes, reducing the sensitivity of the image sensor. In the back-illuminated construction of STARVIS, on the other hand, the photodiodes are positioned on top of the wiring layer.

Use of low-noise technology

With the use of photodiodes, image sensors capture light, transform it into electrical signals, and then output a picture as digital values. The signals can be amplified to brighten a dark image (setting a higher gain level). Higher gain levels, on the other hand, result in an equivalent magnified noise in the electrical impulses and a grainy image.

With relatively little noise present right after the conversion of photons to electrical signals, Sony’s Super High Conversion Gain technology is intended to magnify those signals. This lowers the final level of noise following amplification. As a result, even in low-light conditions, lower-noise photos can be recorded than with traditional technology. Lower picture noise levels also contribute to improved visual image identification precision.

Capturing light ranges not visible to the naked eye

Standard cameras, including smartphone cameras and mirrorless cameras, use image sensors that are made to recreate images as humans perceive them in the light (visible light). Certain image sensors for specialized uses, such as security cameras, are made to operate in the near-infrared (NIR) spectrum, which is invisible to the human eye.

When visible light can bother people or result in an accident, such as at night in residential areas and on multilane highways, NIR lighting is utilized to take pictures.

Image sensors can now produce sharp images in a setting with near-infrared light thanks to STARVIS. If the NIR sensitivity of the image sensor is high enough, NIR lighting can be turned down, which helps cut down on heat production and power usage.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, Sony Starvis sensor based cameras offer high-quality black-and-white imaging in both dark and light conditions, with an impressive F-number sensitivity dependence. Even in daylight settings, particularly in low-light indoor spaces, Starvis cameras’ exceptional low-light performance is apparent. This makes Starvis cameras the ideal choice for security systems, both indoor and outdoor.

We (Vadzo) are developing embedded camera systems using Sony Starvis image sensor cameras. Our camera systems equipped with Sony Starvis image sensors provide superior quality images, even in dark or low-light settings, which ensures that all important information is captured correctly, as the features discussed above.

Please have a look at our Sony Starvis Sensor based cameras:

IMX415 – UVIGA 810-U3-CRS

IMX291 – UVIGA 230-U2-CRS

To learn more about the superior quality that Starvis image sensors offer, feel free to Contact Us