Introducing SmartSensor
Started By: Marie T Started On: Feb 23, 2016

We’re proud to say that today, OPPO has made a huge breakthrough in smartphone photography —we’ve developed the first-ever sensor-based image stabilizer for smartphones. It’s also the smallest image stabilizer, for any type of device, in the world.

At OPPO, we’ve always thought of photography as the most essential feature of a smartphone.

OPPO’s imaging laboratory collaborated with MEMS Drive, in which we have invested. After years of research, we’ve developed our new SmartSensor image stabilization technology, which brings camera phones one step closer to professional cameras, and enables consumers to get consistent, clear and beautiful photos.

Let’s check out some of the principles at work behind this new technology.

In professional cameras, optical image stabilization technology comes in two types:  lens-based image stabilization and sensor-based image stabilization.

Due to the small size of smartphone camera modules, all previous imaging stabilization solutions for smartphones have been lens-based. This type of technology uses a motor to shift the lens slightly to compensate for unwanted movements of the camera on just two axes of motion, and is itself only implemented on select flagship phones of major brands.  

See video here:https://youtu.be/rF_oEF0ENSg

But our new SmartSensor, through the latest advances in micro-electro-mechanical, or MEMS, technology, which is only as thin as two sheets of paper, detects motion on three axes of movement and makes split-second compensations with a monocrystalline silicon MEMS system. Within mere milliseconds, SmartSensor achieves three-axis image stabilization.

So, compared to lens-based image stabilization with a voice coil motor, in what ways specifically, is our SmartSensor better?

For one, with three axes of stabilization functionality, the range of motion that OPPO’s SmartSensor can compensate for is far greater, and far more practical, than any other available technology.

This is because the most common kind of shaking in photography takes place on the roll axis, and in fact, lens-based image stabilization cannot correct for motion on this axis. Whereas lens-based solutions can only compensate for shaking on two axes, the pitch axis and yaw axis, SmartSensor has expanded the range of motion to include pitch axis, yaw axis and the all-important roll axis.

Secondly, SmartSensor is revolutionarily fast, requiring just 15 milliseconds to achieve comprehensive image stabilization.
A traditional lens-based image stabilizer compensates for shaking using a spring-based mechanism that must react proportionately to any movements of the camera, a process which takes at least 50 milliseconds, more than three times slower than SmartSensor. With SmartSensor’s superior speed and compensation time, great shots are far more likely.

Thirdly, SmartSensor also greatly reduces power consumption and avoids lens heating, ensuring consistent and clear shots even in extended photography sessions.
Traditional lens-based image stabilization modules use an electrically powered voice coil motor, which consume a large amount of power, over 500mW with each photo. The lens also quickly heats up when taking photos for extended periods of time, which impacts lens performance and significantly lowers image quality. In comparison, SmartSensor uses a voltage-driven sensor, reducing electricity consumption to as low as 10 milliwatts. That is 50 times less than the power consumption of lens-based solutions.
And with SmartSensor, image quality is barely affected even after extended periods of shooting.

Finally, the SmartSensor’s precision is astounding. Traditional lens-based image stabilization technologies have a precision of 3 to 5 micrometers, while SmartSensor remains precise to a vibration of just 0.3 micrometers, making it ten times more precise than lens-based stabilizers.

One pixel is about 1 micrometer, which means that SmartSensor makes precise adjustments at scales of less than a third of a pixel. This is the first pixel-level image stabilization technology for smartphones in the world!

So why is the SmartSensor just now arriving? Let's have a look at just how difficult it was to bring about this technology.

To achieve three-axis sensor-based stabilization, the image sensor needs to be suspended in a very small space to allow for rotation around a central axis.

Another challenge brought by suspension is signal transmission. The SmartSensor presents the challenge of having to connect over 200 signal wires from the floating sensor to the main board.

This was the key puzzle that OPPO and MEMS Drive solved through years of research.

How does our SmartSensor compare to the competition?

Because vibration on the roll axis is the most frequent type of vibration, competitors with 2 axis stabilization who don’t compensate for this type of vibration have an incomplete solution.

The SmartSensor solves the roll-axis problem of lens-based stabilizers, and gives users the smoothest possible photography experience, as well as incredibly stable video.

With SmartSensor, OPPO smartphones will become like pocket-sized SLR cameras, capturing pictures that are bright, clear and stable, down to the last pixel. This is what OPPO will continue to strive for as it pioneers a leading photography experience: Bringing users technology that will allow them to better record their lives and share their experiences, capturing every moment as it really is, clear, colorful and bright.

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