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Apple eyes CMOS image sensor design centre in Grenoble

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:CMOS image sensor? SPAD technology? smartphone?

Apple is supposedly preparing to set up a CMOS image sensor design centre in Grenoble, France. A website covering image sensors has revealed an "unconfirmed rumour" that Apple has approached a former ST employee for the said venture.

When this is put together with Apple's acquisition of PrimeSense Ltd in Israelthe company that developed the Kinect 3D image sensor used with Microsoft's Xbox 360in November 2013 and continued patent activity by that group, it can be seen that Apple could well be interested in turning ST into a foundry supplier of CMOS image, proximity and range-finding sensors of its own design.

Also of note is that ST has been supplying the VL6180x time-of-flight/ambient light sensor to LG Electronics for use in its G3 smartphone to aid autofocus. According to Image Sensors World, Apple is interested in ST's single-photon avalanche diode (SPAD) technology used in the LG G3 and is working to gain access to the technology.

The same source said that STMicroelectronics NV is reducing its image sensor operations in Edinburgh, formerly the home of VLSI Vision Ltd, which ST acquired in 1999. And that meanwhile Apple has allegedly held a recruitment day for image sensor designers in the city.

- Peter Clarke
??EE Times Europe

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