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Sony curved image sensor gets first public photo

A production photo of the chip announced last April reveals it's close to reality.

Sony, via IEEE Spectrum
VLSI Technology Symposium

Announced in April at the 2014 Symposia on VLSI Technology and Circuits, the first photo released by Sony of its curved image sensor and mention of sucessful production of around 100 sensors indicates that products incorporating it are pretty close to reality. (Unfortunately, the original paper is now behind a paywall, but you can find the original patent in Japanese.)

A curved sensor, which mimics the shape of the human eye, has potential advantages over flat ones, including a better signal-to-noise ratio, greater overall sensitivity, and the capability of facilitating much simpler -- therefore smaller -- lens designs. The big hurdle has been manufacturing; the stress of the bending can lead to breakage. Sony's version is bolstered with ceramic for increased durability.

Initial reports mentioned two chips in progress, a 43mm-diagonal (equal to full frame) and 11mm-diagonal (roughly equal to a 2/3-inch, or about 8.8 x 6.6mm, the size of the Nokia Lumia 1020 sensor). While photography geeks are hoping to see this in the next version of Sony's full-frame compact -- whatever replaces the RX1 -- I think it has the most potential to make an immediately visible difference in the quality of phone cameras. Mostly, I hope at least one of the sensors makes it into a product by the end of this year.

(via IEEE Spectrum)