Santa Clara, California-based OmniVision Technologies may not exactly be the most well-known name in technology, but it is the second largest manufacturer of digital imaging products with 16 percent of the market. That puts the company just ahead of South Korea-based tech giant Samsung, which holds about 15 percent market share in a sector almost unilaterally dominated by Japanese multinational Sony, especially at the high-end. Now, in an effort to further cement its position as one of the leading makers of mobile camera sensors worldwide, Omnivision has announced the introduction of a new image sensor in the market, called the OV16860. The 16-megapixel PureCel Plus-S image sensor is meant for smartphones and action cameras, and measures 1/2.4-inch, with a pixel size of 1.3Î¼m, which is larger than the standard sensors that come with pixel sizes of 1.12Î¼m (read as micrometer or micron, which is one thousandth of a millimeter or one millionth of a meter). According to Omnivision, the sensor will fit into a module size of 10.5 mm x 10.5 mm and is 40 percent more energy efficient than the last generation OV16825 sensor from the company.
Samsung of course, recently launched its ISOCELL camera sensor with a pixel size of just 1.0Î¼m, which will apparently allow OEMs to slim down mobile devices, as cameras with larger sensors are often seen as one of the reasons behind smartphones being bulkier than they ought to be. While sensors with smaller pixel sizes come with the advantage of a slimmer profile for the devices carrying them, conventional wisdom states that the pixel size can and will affect the quality of images. Larger pixels, while adding to the girth of the sensors, are believed to ensure better image clarity by capturing more light, thereby reducing noise and pixel cross-talk, making them especially useful in low-light conditions. OmniVision is also claiming that it is the world's first mobile camera sensor that will allow the recording of 4K videos at 60 frames per second. The OV16860 can also record 1080p videos at 120 fps, and according to OmniVision, will enter mass production at some stage during the remainder of this year.
Announcing the availability of the product for sampling purposes, Mr. James Liu, senior technical marketing manager at OmniVision noted, ""Industry reports forecast continued growth in the 13 to 16 megapixel resolution segment in 2016 and beyond, attributable to what is expected to be rapid adoption of 16-megapixel resolution in high-end smartphones starting in 2016. The action camera segment with similar camera resolution is also expected to grow quickly through 2019. The OV16860's faster frame rate aligns perfectly with the feature set requirement of high-end smartphones and rugged action cameras for operating in high resolution and high frame rate modes".