Celebrating 5 Years of Innovation in Optical Assembly

Optics Innovation 5 Year Anniversary

We recently hosted an office party to mark the 5th anniversary of the founding of Kasalis.  In our celebratory presentation, we reminisced about both the good times and the struggle to get a start-up off the ground and running.  It has been a rollercoaster for these five years: overall, very exciting, but not without its ups and downs. 

In 2012, we released our first products and were able to shake hands with our first customer. Soon we gained distributors and saw market growth. When 2014 rolled around, our numbers were growing so swiftly that we had to move to an office triple the size of our old one. We worked hard, traveled a great deal, and in 2015, our company was acquired by Jabil Circuit. We are now proudly a part of their Jabil Optics division.

Since then, we have kept busy, launching our Pixid 500 systems in 2016 and moving, yet again, to a bigger, more secure office. Now that we are finally settled in, we have time to celebrate! We are looking at a future with growth in some exciting markets, such as augmented reality, gesture recognition, and self-driving vehicles.  So…cheers to five years of rigorous innovation and collaboration at Kasalis.  Here’s to the next five and beyond, and a big thanks to our customers and partners for a great start.

 

 

 

Marvels of Micro Technology: Compact Camera Module Market to Reach $51B

So, what is on the cool technology docket for 2016? Some exciting new products will be coming onto the market, many of which will include connectivity and embedded cameras, ready for connecting to the internet of things (IoT).  We are thrilled that cameras are becoming more prevalent, and indeed, significant growth is projected in the compact camera module (CCM) market. The demand for thinner devices and higher quality cameras, as well as the now-essential automotive camera, are driving the market.

According to a new report by Yole Developpment (Lyon, France), the compact camera module market is likely to more than double by 2020, reaching $51 billion. Currently, mobile phone cameras account for 73% of the market. The automotive camera market is swiftly growing and will soon take over as second most prevalent in the market, expected to grow at a CAGR of 36%, and should reach $7.9B by 2020.

What else is driving growth? New technology shifts. In burgeoning areas such as 3D, computational, motion, and infrared cameras, multiple sensors, projectors, and others, high quality optics are required. Due to these shifts, the camera module will ultimately become the go-to product for multi-sensing.

Finally, in a boon to Kasalis’ area of the market, the assembly portion of the industry, Yole projected a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 20% (image below). That’s great news, and we hope to embrace and evolve with these burgeoning shifts toward multi-sensing technologies throughout the next five years and beyond.

Compact Camera Module (CCM) Market 2015

Backup Camera Law and Challenges for Manufacturing

A few weeks ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), after much delay, passed a law requiring backup cameras in cars. It will, first and foremost, improve safety, particularly for the small children who cannot be seen without them and are the victims of thousands of backup accidents annually. Backup cameras have proven very effective in studies, beating out parking sensors and other machine vision methods in effectively preventing crashes.

backup-cam

Photo: NHTSA

We want to know what this all means for car manufacturers and, of course, camera manufacturers (our customers) who will soon be producing and assembling cameras to meet a growing demand as they ramp up to May of 2018, when all new cars will be required to have them.

Already many car manufacturers have included backup cameras as an option or standard in new car models. The NHTSA said there will be requirements governing image size, linger time, response time, durability, and deactivation, but the most important was simply the ability to see in a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. But perhaps there should also be a requirement for camera clarity? Car makers say their main challenge is integrating the screen into the dashboard, but with so many cars already offering a backup camera system, it’s clear they have already found some solutions.

The main challenge we see is that the obligatory 10 by 20 foot visible zone definitely requires a wide angle or fish eye camera module. Therefore, these automotive backup cameras must certainly be assembled using active alignment so that the outside edges of the resulting image are in focus. Otherwise, the safety measure will be compromised.

The good news for us is that we will be working hard on our productsPixid Systems – so that they will produce the best backup cameras possible, with no fuzzy imaging areas around the edges.  We can see now that backup cameras are here to stay; we know that our company is contributing to automotive safety through our work to create rearview cameras with optimized clarity. We hope that more innovation in the automotive world, including the head-up displays that project information onto the windshield, will improve driving safety even further.

 

Delay in Decisive Backup Camera Legislation Leads to Lawsuit

rearview camera

Rearview camera screen on a dashboard.
(This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.)

At the end of September, a lawsuit was filed against the government by several citizen groups and individuals, citing government inaction on automotive rearview camera legislation.  While a law requiring rearview cameras in all motor vehicles was passed
in 2008 and slated for enactment in 2011
, the Transportation Department never delivered on it.

The Transportation Department said that it would add rearview cameras to its list of recommended safety measures just before the suit was filed.  Some automakers say that it is important that rearview cameras remain optional so that consumers can choose whether to pay extra for the feature.  However, NHTSA estimated in 2010 that backup cameras would add only $53 to $88 to the price of cars with dash display screens (which even many economy small cars now have) and $159 to $203 for vehicles without them.

Although this delay has frustrated and angered supporters of mandatory cameras, they have not completely lost the battle to bring the technology to the masses.  Now, there is global recognition of the significant benefits of the cameras.  This year, 79% of new cars offer the cameras either standard or as an option.  In addition, 53% of 2013 model cars and light trucks do have a standard camera.  Honda is leading the pack, making rearview vision standard on all models by 2014.

One of the individuals filing the lawsuit is Greg Gulbransen, who wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post to bring attention to his passion for the cause.  When he tragically hit his two year old, fatally, in 2002, he began to campaign for change. In 2007, the new law requiring backup cameras was named for his son Cameron.

“For many consumers backup cameras have reached the same status as air conditioning or cruise control,” says Karl Brauer, senior analyst at car research site Kelley Blue Book.  He notes that unlike those comfort features, “there’s a certifiable safety benefit to backup cameras. … It’s time for backup cameras to be a required feature on all new cars sold in the U.S.”

Camera Module Market Forecast for 2013 and Beyond

In December, IC Insights published an interesting market forecast identifying various market trends for the upcoming three years. The primary insights were that machine vision, automotive, and medical applications will fuel growth in the industry in the near future. Here is a brief summary of their findings.

While digital still camera sales have been declining since 2007, the competition is gaining by leaps and bounds: camera phones that offer greater than 3MP sensors outsold digital still cameras by a 6:1 ratio in 2012. The industry’s attention has therefore shifted to new applications and embedded systems for photography. Enhanced machine vision for automotive safety and industrial equipment, video surveillance networks, medical imaging, and small camera modules for portable devices are all contributing to this new wave of industry development.

“The total market value for digital cameras and imaging systems is expected to grow from $55.5 billion in 2012 to $77.8 billion in 2016. IC Insights forecasts total shipments of digital cameras and embedded imaging systems will reach 6 billion units in 2016 compared to 2.5 billion in 2011, which represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.0% in the five-year period.” – IC Insights

camera module industry forecast

According to IC Insights, we will see sales of cameras in phones, tablets, computers, automobiles, and medical devices increase while stand-alone digital camera sales will significantly decrease over the next three years.

Rearview Cameras Crucial for Vehicle Backup Safety

Drivers backing up cars, vans, and trucks cannot see anything immediately behind their vehicle.  Each year, this problem accounts for an estimated 300 backover fatalities and 18,000 backover injuries.  Tragically, many of these accidents involve small children.  In 2008, Congress approved a law to establish rear visibility standards, possibly requiring rearview or backup cameras in all cars, but the legislation was put on hold in March, in order to “ensure the most protective and efficient rule possible.”

Cameras placed at the rear of the car have been found to be the most effective way to alert drivers of people in their back-up path.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a report in 2006 entitled “Vehicle Backover Avoidance Technology Study.” The report concluded from its testing that ultrasonic and radar sensor technology is ineffective for this purpose and that vision-based cameras had the greatest potential for success because “the rearview camera systems typically provided drivers with the ability to see pedestrians in the majority of the rear blind zone areas.”

Vehicle Blind Zone

Image from “Vehicle Backover Avoidance Technology Study” by NHTSA and USDOT.

Blind zones become larger as car size increases; for instance, the driver of a Cadillac Escalade has a blind zone ranging from 30 to 100 feet behind the vehicle.  Many newer vehicle models do include rearview cameras to address this issue, such as this one: the BMW X3 xDrive 35i backup camera.

BMW X3 Rearview Camera

The BMW X3 Backup Camera

Kasalis believes that there is indeed great potential in rearview video systems to prevent backover accidents.  In the hope that Congress revisits this legislation sometime in 2012, and rearview cameras become standard, we look forward to working with automotive cameras a great deal in the near future.