CMOS Image Sensors for High-Speed Motion Analysis

iStock_000015880680_MediumFrom the movement of a shuttle in a knitting machine to the deformation of a crashing vehicle to a bird-ingestion test of a jet engine, the ability to see events unfold in “slow-motion” has proven to be invaluable in engineering and process development as well as research. Most of us have seen slow-motion videos of car crashes done to improve safety systems. However, industrial activities as simple as filling thousands of baby food jars per minute without sloshing strained carrots also need the help of high-speed analysis.

In the earliest days, high-speed motion analysis was done with various film cameras capable of high frame rates (frames per second, or fps). These cameras and support systems tended to be costly, and difficult to coordinate with the test device motion. The lengthy timeline starting from capturing imagery to developing the film and then projected for analysis was not practical for most industries.

One industry that had no choice was the automotive industry, where increasing safety standards required a massive amount of testing with detailed event analysis. Worldwide, hundreds of crash events are staged daily to validate production vehicles and components and to aid in development of new safety concepts. In such tests the primary analysis tool is typically high-speed photography.iStock_000012152443_Medium

In the 1990’s affordable video systems began to take over. Today, costly film camera systems have disappeared in favor of digital video cameras of increasing capability. Image sensors with speeds of 1000 fps are typical and capable of capturing fine details of many industrial processes. Frame rates of 3000 or 5000 fps and higher are available. The ability to instantly view the test results is a huge benefit for “digital photography” as many now call it.

Forza Silicon specializes in the design and manufacture of custom high-performance CMOS image sensors for camera manufacturers. In addition, Forza created a high-definition, high-speed camera designed for the most demanding imaging needs. The camera integrated a custom Forza Silicon CMOS image sensor with an electronic global shutter.