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Samsung's Colorful Fix for Low Light: Isocell, Coming Soon

Samsung's Colorful Fix for Low Light: Isocell, Coming Soon
By Nancy Owano

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The Samsung Isocell technology substantially increases light sensitivity and controls the absorption of electrons -- an important technical point to make because, noted Samsung, the quality of an image sensor is determined by the amount of light that is accurately captured by the individual pixels within the sensor array.
 



Smartphone sensor wars just got more colorful if not interesting. Samsung on Tuesday announced its new sensor tech named Isocell, detailed on its official global blog, Samsung Tomorrow. This is a new image sensor approach targeted for owners of premium smartphones who, whether snapping away as part of their technical jobs or for photo sharing with friends, place a premium on taking good pictures as well as phoning home and texting colleagues.

Samsung's Isocell will be integrated into sensors that can boost image quality in smartphone cameras. The first Samsung image sensor to adopt the technology, an 8-megapixel imager, is now sampling to customers with mass production to get under way later this year.

According to Japan-based market research firm Techno System Research, 66 percent of smartphones in 2014 will feature image sensors with 8-megapixel or higher resolution.

Fundamentally, the new Isocell tech is going to ease a big complaint among photography buffs, that smartphones cannot cut the mustard when it comes to taking decent pictures in low light settings.

Talking Pixel Isolation

Isocell technology uses barriers between pixels to improve image quality; the barrier is formed between neighboring pixels. In isolating the pixel, more photons can be collected from the micro-lens and absorbed into the correct pixel's photodiode, according to Samsung, and this serves to minimize undesired "electrical crosstalk" between pixels.

The technology substantially increases light sensitivity and controls the absorption of electrons -- an important technical point to make because, noted Samsung, the quality of an image sensor is determined by the amount of light that is accurately captured by the individual pixels within the sensor array.

What does that mean for users? Carryovers are nicer photos with better color accuracy and color fidelity even if the object or person is snapped in poor lighting conditions.

Smartphone Feature Jostling

Taehoon Kim, vice president of System LSI marketing at Samsung Electronics, said the technology would significantly raise the bar in image quality.

"Through advances in pixel and process technology, smartphone and tablet cameras have made it easier than ever for consumers to capture and share beautiful, clear images with the world," Kim said.

In an increasingly noisy and crowded smartphone marketplace, competitors all recognize that today's smartphones sell on features beyond making calls and messaging. Taking and sharing pictures on the run are frequent daily tasks and vendors seek to promote their cameras' abilities loud and clear.

The South Korean technology giant has much to gain in taking technology leadership in image sensors for mobile devices. The Isocell turns a corner and gives Samsung a competitive edge in optimizing the image quality of small smartphone sensors because it solves a real problem -- how to increase camera resolution and image quality in smartphones even under difficult lighting conditions.
 

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