Smart Homes and Security Challenges

smart home graphic

Smart home      (credit: asid.org)

Inventive minds have created a plethora of smartphone-connected home devices, from thermostats and security cameras to locks that can be monitored and controlled remotely via the home Wi-Fi network.  Some of the smart products out there include the popular Nest thermostat, August Home locks and doorbells, the new LED color-changing lights from Philips, and numerous remote-access security cameras such as the iSmartAlarm.

However, the new interconnected home has revealed opportunities for hackers, including a recent incident in which a smart refrigerator was accessed remotely and used to obtain the owner’s email credentials.  This is one reason why, despite the useful nature and variety of smart home products available, the smart home has yet to be fully embraced and catapulted into the mass market.  In fact, recent research from Argus Insights has found that overall demand is actually dropping for smart home products, most likely due to issues of cost and the threat of hackers.

To solve the latter problem, companies such as Dojo Labs and Cujo have developed monitoring devices that plug into your router to detect suspicious activity. For example, if a hacker is trying to access your web camera, these devices have the ability to automatically block that access.

Hacked security graphic

The threat of hackers (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Security, both for the Wi-Fi network and for the home itself, is the current area of growth.  Another research agency, Parks Associates, has found that connected cameras have helped drive double digit growth in sales of home security system installations, with nearly 6 million home security customers using a smart home device as part of their security system.

The internet of things is a more promising concept when we are also provided with peace of mind, so security will be front and center in the upcoming years of growth for these interconnected devices.

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

Camera and Sensor Technology Advances for Smartphones

The ubiquity of smartphones has perpetuated creative thinking and an amazing number of advancements in mobile technology.  The vast continuum of purposes for smartphone cameras and camera attachments has been consistently growing, widening recently to include advanced applications such as thermal imaging and spectrometry.  This year, a few cutting edge companies have revealed some news in these up-and-coming areas of innovation.

seek-therm

A goat in the wild, highlighted by its heat signature, from Seek Thermal.

Thermal detection is a burgeoning area, in which Seek Thermal and Flir Systems, for example, are thriving by producing cameras that send real-time thermal imaging to a smartphone.  Seek Thermal recently updated its thermal camera to include a manual focus lens to enable focus on anything from 8 inches to 2,000 feet away.  Flir Systems updated to its Flir One to be less bulky and work with Android or iOS systems. The thermal images show people and objects with colors representing relative temperature, and can be used for detecting heat leaks in a building, electrical problems, or wildlife.

Scio spectrometry tool

Scio spectrometry tool

Another product, the SCiO, is a Bluetooth-connected device that will tell you what it is pointing at, on a molecular level.  Developed by Consumer Physics, its first major applications are in pharmaceuticals, food, and plant hydration.  It aims to detect the nutritional quality of food and the difference between real and counterfeit pharmaceuticals.  It performs these feats by using a built-in spectrometer to detect and analyze the molecular makeup of an object. When the data is uploaded to a cloud server, it is then compared against a database of results.  Because the price of sensors has decreased drastically, and the company has raised over $2.5 million in funds on Kickstarter, they will be offering the SCiO for a very reasonable price of about $250 for a research-level product. The SCiO falls loosely into the growing category called the Internet of Things, the networking of the physical world within existing internet infrastructure.

 

 

Consumer Electronics Show Debuts Camera-Centric Tech

CES Las Vegas LogoIn Las Vegas this week, the International Consumer Electronics Show is taking place, introducing attendees to the most cutting-edge technologies well before they are available to the general public.  This year, the most notable camera-centered products include security cameras with facial recognition and user-friendly medical cameras.

Netatmo Security Camera

Several sources, including CNET and Gizmodo, have published stories on Netatmo’s new security camera with facial recognition.  Its sophisticated software can recognize family members who are at home and provide a video feed that can be viewed remotely, should there be an intruder who is not recognized.

Camera for phone from CellscopeA startup called CellScope exhibiting at the show was featured on NPR; it has built a small ear probe that clips onto the top of your iPhone camera. Instead of rushing to the emergency room, this product allows you to stream footage from inside the ear to an app, so the images can then be examined by a doctor.

Finally, there were two exciting announcements from the show, first that Omnivision and Inuitive Ltd. have created a partnership to develop a reference design for building compact modules that enable 3D imaging in consumer electronics, which will enable advanced features such as augmented reality, 3D scanning, and post processing photography. Second, Jabil Circuit and Pelican Imaging also announced a partnership, this one to develop a high-resolution array camera module using the most advanced digital optics to allow for accurate depth acquisition.

Compact camera modules are essential to new technologies and consumer electronics of the future, because, as evidenced by these examples, when we produce more powerful images with high quality cameras, we can also create useful tools with which to utilize them.

Cameras, Machine Vision, and Gesture Control Innovations

A demonstration of gesture control using a 3D camera. (Image credit: Intel Free Press, via Wikimedia Commons)

 

Will gesture recognition transform our mobile phone, tv, and computer experiences?  Certainly leading companies in the space, such as PrimeSense and EyeSight Mobile Technologies, believe so.  Technology-savvy consumers may see this giant wave of innovations coming: gesture recognition, à la tv drama NCIS, whose cutting-edge video screen walls allow people to grab and expand files almost physically with their hands, is likely coming to a device near you, bringing with it an endless array of gesture-controlled apps and games.

The latest news is that app developers are beginning to consider transforming their apps with a new user interface – one that uses gesture control instead of the touchscreen, much like that found in the  Wii or Kinect gaming systems, but more advanced.  If new phones come with a gesture mode, then what’s next for automotive dashboard controls, kitchen appliances, and light switches?

An amazing array of technologies are possible with this technology, but given that even a touchscreen can be accidentally touched the wrong way, very careful thought must be given to the gestures that are used to control these devices.  One wouldn’t want to walk by the television swinging his arms, and by doing so accidentally trigger a pay-per-view movie  – this is referred to as “noise” by industry professionals.  The goal is to have a system that recognizes the difference between noise and a real gesture.  If you cannot scratch your chin in front of these cameras, customers will not be pleased.

Hopefully, given the new graphic acceleration being used in the latest gesture recognition technology, greater precision will be in place for mass market applications.  According to this article in CNET, the next round of shipments from Lenovo, Toshiba, and Philips will include products with the latest gesture recognition technology from EyeSight built in.  Only time will tell if it truly catches on, whether people are willing to switch to a new type of control pad, and what are truly the biggest challenges in this space.

Camera Module Market Update: Growth Expected

The global camera module market is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of nearly 20% over the next six years, increasing the market from what was $12 billion in 2012 to over $43 billion in 2019, as forecasted by Research and Markets and Transparency Market Research in recently released reports.

This growth is driven by numerous segments.  The smart phone and tablet PC segment is the largest, expected to grow at the rate of 21.9% from 2013 to 2019, followed by Global Camera Module Sales are Growingconsumer electronics (excluding smartphones and tablets).  Other key factors behind the market’s growth will be increasing use in the automotive sector and rapidly improving technology: as smartphone camera modules are increasingly 5MP, 8MP, and 13 MP or more, and offer higher pixel front-facing cameras, market demand is expected to increase globally.

The shipments of camera modules in smartphones were about 80% of the global market in 2012. While the automotive camera market is indeed growing, it will remain dwarfed by the mobile device camera market.  TechNavio’s analysts forecast the Global Automotive Camera Module market to reach $1,554.72 million by 2016. In other words, when the automotive camera module market will be at about $1.5 billion, the smartphone/tablet market will likely be at $24.8 billion.

Although TechNavio’s Industry forecast predicted a significantly smaller growth rate (CAGR) of 13.2% per year for overall camera module sales from 2013-2018, its conclusion regarding driving factors and overall growth forecast concurred with the other reports.

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.”

Kasalis Partners with Kingyoup for Customers in Taiwan and China

Camera Module Support Kasalis in Taiwan

Support locations for Kasalis products via Kingyoup in Taiwan and China.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, we’re announcing our partnership with the Taiwanese company, Kingyoup Enterprises Co., Ltd., which will provide sales, distribution, and technical support for Kasalis products in Taiwan and mainland China.

Our ability to respond quickly to customers and support them with a local presence is very important to us.  Kingyoup is an excellent match for Kasalis with its industry expertise in optics and semiconductors as well as its solid reputation for excellent after-sales service.  With support in Taipei, Hsinchu, Taichung, Tainan and Taicang City, China, we are delighted to have Kingyoup on our team.

Our customers in China and Taiwan purchasing camera module assembly systems can rest assured that we have taken steps to ensure their satisfaction and ongoing success with our products.

Stay tuned for more announcements regarding additional regional partnerships in the near future.

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.

Now Available: The Pixid 300 Series, Groundbreaking Automated Active Alignment and Test System

We are thrilled to announce that our signature alignment and test system, the Pixid 300 Series, is now available to high volume manufacturers of camera modules. Our engineers have truly created an outstanding assembly system that leapfrogs existing standards to meet the future demands of fast-moving high technology industries.

Camera module assembly system Pixid 300 Pro

The groundbreaking Pixid 300 Pro is our signature model.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is the Pixid system different?  For starters, its innovative design allows for parallel processing of camera modules, so when one is being aligned, another is getting its adhesive. This contributes to our industry-leading cycle time of only 15 seconds, or 240 camera units per hour, all using active alignment for the absolute best image quality possible.  In addition, the yield of usable camera modules is higher using our machines because of our Adaptive IntelligenceTM software, which adjusts the alignment algorithm based on data trends.

Our systems cost significantly less than the industry average, both in terms of equipment and maintenance costs.  Our modular design makes the Pixid series easy to operate and very simple to repair or update.  With customer needs in mind, we have taken a new approach to active alignment and developed this system to meet their challenges head-on, including driving down the cost of active alignment, creating an intuitive, easily operated machine that doesn’t require an engineering degree, and lowering lead times by designing for the rapid configuration of systems.

The Pixid 300 Pro model is a fully automated manufacturing system featuring active alignment, configurable optical testing options, Adaptive IntelligenceTM SPC, and automated adhesive dispense and UV cure.  In addition to the Pixid 300 Pro, the line includes the Pixid 300 Test model, which is intended purely for the high speed, final functional testing of camera modules. The Pixid 300 systems are designed for high volume production of camera modules such as those used in smartphones, cars, webcams, medical imaging, wearable sports cameras, and security cameras.