Skip to main content

PERiscopic COnsumer Stereo DEpth CAMera (PERCOSDECAM)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PERCOSDECAM (PERiscopic COnsumer Stereo DEpth CAMera (PERCOSDECAM))

Reporting period: 2020-03-01 to 2020-08-31

The main objective of this project is to develop the most disruptive cameras for AR, MR, VR and depth estimation applications for mobile phones, tablets and laptop computers: specifically, an embedded camera module, a highly competitive device aiming towards disruptive market-shares and global leadership. These devices will offer the same precision at 5 meters as competing cameras at 1 meter (the Structured Light [SL] cameras used in iPhone-X and TOF [Time of Flight] cameras), will increase drastically the resolution of the depth map (from 40 Kpixels to 1,45 Mpixels), consuming 7 times less power than the second closest competitor. Additionally, the costs of the BOM (Bill of Material) for the camera will be reduced by more than 50% and will provide realtime-3Dvideo and depth maps (vs. a few frames/second). This, will help to reduce the overall size of the device, increasing the heat dissipation, enabling to have as a result a more robust camera with enhanced functionalities.
As secondary objectives, linked to the accomplishment of the main objective, is to disrupt into established value-chains of products including the aforementioned type of camera (mobile telephony, tablets and laptops) accelerating development of ideas into business-driven new products (AR depth cameras), making camera module manufacturing competitive in Europe (due to the automation introduced by the alignment solution to be developed in this project)
The work performed in these 6 months has been focused to develop the most competitive cameras for AR, MR, VR and depth estimation applications for mobile phones, tablets and laptop computers. Given the traction these devices have had during the last years, and the boost of remote communications as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the camera being manufactured on this proposal is targeting a potential revenue of $447M by 2023 for the partners of the consortium.
The specific relevant objectives for the project for the current report – and the necessary work (tasks, deliverables and milestones) – to conduct in order to achieve them partially or totally during these first 6 months, are focused mainly in demonstrating design and manufacturing feasibility, and obtaining the first set of prototypes.
To reach these goals, Photonicsens has defined the product required specifications after a thorough and systematic research. Once defined, the design of the different components has been defined and assembled with the different elements that conform a camera prototype. This prototype has been tested to ensure the good performance of the first set of manufactured products. The results obtained from these tests have been satisfactory, allowing to reach the appropriate project due dates and enabling to take the expected next steps defined in the project plan.
In parallel, a new concept of a high throughput alignment and the mounting machine has been agreed within Polyoptics and PhotonicSens.
At the end of this first 6-month period, the consortium has reached a functional prototype of a newly designed camera and a defined concept in terms of design and equipment for mass manufacturing.
The first proposed design was beyond the state-of-the-art. The work put into these first 6 months has pushed the technological edge forward, proving this first design to be functional and feasible. Due to its manufacturing associated costs, this approach has been shelved by now, but we consider it a significant achievement with the potential to have a sustainable impact not only in depth cameras, but potentially also in image cameras, as the current trends, pioneered by companies like Huawei and other leaders go in the direction of folded optics designs to include zoom-cameras in mobile phones. We can affirm that our design achieves the same results through than the competitive existing solutions with a much simpler design, implying lower costs, easier manufacturing, making it very worth considering for future developments.
The reasons why we believe to have that impact potential are based in technology facts. Our strongest competitive advantages are: cost (well below any competitor), power consumption (dividing by 7 the power used by second competitor), lateral resolution (1.4 vs. 0.04 Mpixels) and the fact that using our technology, by combining the image from our camera for short-distances (below 1 meter) and the image of the other camera for long distances eliminates the need for Autofocus in the main camera (with fixed-focus hyperfocal design points for images beyond 1 meter), eliminating VCMs, the second largest cause of malfunctions after broken displays. These are competitive advantages too good to pass.
On the impacts in terms of project execution, the project is on track, and the value proposition has not been diminished. Even more, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of cameras to communicate with relatives and for remote working has increased, proving the value of using images for communication purposes. These increase of use of cameras confirm an important value proposition of this camera and reinforces our commitment to making it a reality.
Finally, to give this impact some numbers in terms of growth and tangible results, the AR camera resulting from this project is estimated to enable a payback period of a year after the completion of the project. On the labor side, the impact for PhotonicSens is noticeable as well: because the increase on volume and sales of the existing products in portfolio, together with the one estimated from the camera proposed in this project, is estimated to imply a growth to around 150 people by 2023, as well as an additional estimation of 100 direct jobs in manufacturing. Last, but not least, the potential economic impact is estimated to be of $1,27 billion revenue for Photonicsens by 2023, $ 90 million for one of our technology partners and $67 million for another of the technology partners.
Camera demo