InVisage Spark4K sample structured light image

This sensor enables cameras to see in cinematic vision even in total darkness, says its maker

InVisage Spark4K sample structured light image
InVisage Spark4K sample structured light image

InVisage says its Spark4K near-infrared sensor brings cinematic resolution, high dynamic range, and low power Consumption to cameras and other devices 

InVisage claims its Spark4K is the world’s highest resolution IR sensor with 35 per cent quantum efficiency at 940 nm, dynamic pixel sizing, global shutter, and up to “50 times less system power consumption” – less than what the company left us in the dark about.   

InVisage Technologies, the pioneering developer of QuantumFilm camera sensors, launched the Spark4K near-infrared (NIR) camera sensor.

A 1.1-micron pixel, 13-megapixel sensor in a 1/3-inch module, Spark4K features the world’s highest NIR resolution packing 4K video at 30 frames per second, making it ideal for augmented reality, autonomous, and authentication systems that require high-resolution, high dynamic range NIR imaging with global shutter capability. 

Spark4K takes advantage of the QuantumFilm technology platform’s unique combination of higher sensitivity with electronic global shutter to minimize power consumption while overcoming the glare of ambient infrared in sunlight.

The photosensitivity of NIR-optimized QuantumFilm is five times higher than conventional silicon at the invisible 940-nanometer wavelength, allowing the Spark4K pixel to deliver 35% quantum efficiency.

Spark4K can accurately detect a brighter but shorter LED pulse that instantaneously outshines ambient infrared light to help devices navigate and learn about their environments more accurately in pitch darkness or in direct sunlight.

In addition, by pulsing the LED in sync with Spark4K’s global shutter, systems reduce battery consumption dramatically, enabling more compact, lighter weight product designs. Optimal applications include drones, self-driving vehicles, and augmented reality devices that will benefit from Spark4K’s extended range and power savings.

“After the recent launch of our 2-megapixel NIR sensor SparkP2, we’re excited to expand our IR product portfolio with a higher resolution infrared camera sensor” said Jess Lee, InVisage president and CEO.

“As machine vision enters the mass consumer market of phones, drones, cars and AR headsets, the demands are clear. Small footprint, high resolution infrared cameras that perform invisibly indoors and outdoors are a must.

“By pairing higher sensitivity with a short pulse 940-nanometer source, our Spark products easily save 50 times on power compared to a conventional camera while overpowering sun irradiance.”  

InVisage’s Spark line of NIR cameras are optimal for depth sensing, 3-D mapping, compositional analysis, authentication, eye/head/gesture tracking. While existing CMOS sensors that use silicon to sense light have a limited range in which they can effectively operate, Spark4K combines QuantumFilm’s higher NIR sensitivity with higher resolution to expand the operational range of NIR cameras for augmented reality, autonomous, and authentication systems.

Infrared light at the 940 nanometer wavelength, for which Spark4K is optimized, is also invisible to the human eye. Thus, Spark4K enables devices to be more user friendly by eliminating the red glow visible with infrared cameras that operate at shorter wavelengths.

“We project sales of CMOS image sensors dedicated at sensing applications to grow at a CAGR of 24 per cent until 2021,” said Pierre Cambou, activity leader of imaging at Yole Developpement.

“Much of that growth is driven by features that would benefit from higher performance and resolution, and by markets in connection to the Internet of Things with applications such as gesture recognition, authentication, and collision avoidance. Currently, there are very few available options for sensors combining high dynamic range, global shutter and improved NIR performance.”

Spark4K also features dynamic pixel sizing for lower resolution, high sensitivity security applications. Light captured from adjacent 1.1-micron pixels can be combined to maximize sensitivity and readout speed according to the demands of a specific application. In practice, this allows for an optional 3-megapixel sensor mode with four times greater sensitivity in low light or long-range scenarios.