Imaging and Detectors

May 1, 2006
David Muller, founder and former CEO of Summit Technology (Walnut Creek, CA)-a leader in laser vision correction-has traded vision care for vision-based security.

Retica launches retina biometric system

David Muller, founder and former CEO of Summit Technology (Walnut Creek, CA)-a leader in laser vision correction-has traded vision care for vision-based security. His latest venture, Retica Systems (Waltham, MA), has developed what the company says is the first retinal biometric security system based on iris-pattern-recognition software.

Retinal identification, often confused with the less-precise iris identification process, has long been considered by experts to be the most accurate and imposter-proof biometric. The human retinal vasculature is safely protected from intentional or accidental tampering. Stable from birth to death, the retinal vasculature disappears within seconds of the cessation of life, thereby insuring that the captured image was obtained from a living user.

The retinal biometric system combines specialized aspheric optics, the physiologic optics of the eye, and advances in LED and digital imaging technology to capture accurate images of the biometric pattern at distances up to one meter. A handheld version is under test and is due out at the end of 2006.

Epson, Novalux join forces on displays

Novalux (Sunnyvale, CA) has entered into a joint development and license agreement with Seiko Epson (Tokyo, Japan) for Novalux external-cavity surface-emitting laser (NECSEL)-based red/green/blue illumination devices for use in microdisplay-based products such as projection TVs. As a result of this agreement, future laser-based projection TVs could one day exhibit unmatched picture brightness and contrast, lifelike colors, long-life operation, and responsive on/off-all from a lower-cost system than can be produced today.

According to the agreement, Novalux will supply Epson with the NECSEL semiconductor chips. Using the chips, Epson plans to leverage its high-precision processing and optical technologies and years of expertise to develop optical engines for integration into its 3LCD projectors. “NECSEL sources are higher performance, longer life, and lower cost [compared to legacy lamps]-they are perfectly suited for next-generation projection devices and will enable the best viewing experience to date,” says Jean-Michel Pelaprat, Novalux chairman and CEO.

Concentrix Solar gets financing

Created with the aim of bringing its innovative FLATCON technology to the market, Concentrix Solar (Freiburg, Germany) completed the first round of venture capital financing in order to fund its expansion. FLATCON modules are based on the simple principle of directing sunlight onto high-efficiency solar cells using Fresnel lenses with a concentration factor of 500. The solar cells are based on III/IV semiconductor technology and have an efficiency rate of up to 35%.

Financing is being provided by Good Energies, a strategic investor in the solar photovoltaics industry. Concentrix will begin operating its first production line in mid-year 2006 to manufacture concentrator modules.

Sven Hansen from Good Energies has high expectations. “Concentrix Solar is a valuable and strong addition to our investment portfolio,” said Hansen. “Based on the anticipated cost advantages that concentrator photovoltaics offer, we believe Concentrix has enormous potential to succeed.”

OmniVision selected for rearview cameras

CMOS image-sensor supplier OmniVision Technologies (Sunnyvale, CA) was selected by Hella KGaA Hueck & Co. (Lippstadt, Germany) to supply sensors for Hella’s rearview camera products. The color camera for the rearview driver-assistance system utilizes OmniVision and Hella expertise in lighting, optics, and electronic development.

“OmniVision has proven to be a valuable partner in developing our rearview camera products,” said Rolf Kuepper, product line manager at Hella.

The Hella system includes an integrated CMOS camera with an aperture angle of more than 120° that allows the whole area behind a vehicle to be within the field of view. When drivers put their vehicle into reverse, they are shown an ergonomic color image on a display that adjusts itself to the ambient light level.

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Also in the news . . .

Seeking to better serve its customers in Europe and Asia, machine-vision supplier Imperx (Boca Raton, FL) has opened a software development and customer support office in Moscow, Russia, and staffed it with engineers from the Russian aerospace industry. . . . Novaled (Dresden, Germany), a developer of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technologies for display and other applications, has converted from a limited liability corporation into a stock corporation (German AG) to provide higher visibility to the international financial community. . . Daitron (Wilsonville, OR), machine-vision inspection hardware supplier, has acquired the Chori America CCD Camera Division (Orange County, CA).

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