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 CMOS Image Sensor Testing

An Intetrated Approach


CMOS image sensors and camera modules are complex integrated circuits with a variety of input and output types many inputs and outputs. Engineers working with CMOS image sensor and camera module components have been hampered by the lack of an affordable, integrated, off-the-shelf solution for interface, control, and testing.

Test and Production Engineers at image sensor, camera module, and end-product manufacturers need a low cost, simple and fast way to interface, control, and test CMOS image sensors/camera modules to insure they are working properly.

Product Development Engineers who use CMOS image sensors or camera modules within their end-products need an integrated, comprehensive solution to fully exercise and evaluate image sensors and camera modules from competing suppliers.

Traditionally, engineers have had three approaches available for CMOS image sensor and camera test. At the high end, there are automated production machines, from companies such as Agilent and Teradyne, each costing several hundred thousand dollars. At the low-end, chip-makers, like Aptina, OmniVision and Kodak, sell specific demo/evaluation boards that work with just their chip and provide limited functionality.

In the middle have been “do-it-yourself” combinations in which an engineer pieces together several off-the-shelf instruments with custom designed circuitry in order to support a new sensor type. This process often becomes a project in itself, requiring time, staff and relatively significant cost and technical risk.

In addition to acquiring sensor hardware interface equipment for the “do-it-yourself” approach, a considerable amount of software is required to integrate the various instruments and components; to support and convert the many image output formats, and testing; and to perform the standard image quality measurements. In short, building a system to communicate with and test CMOS image sensors can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor.