lens motion and new image sensor technology are combining to unleash the full
imaging potential of high-resolution, miniature security cameras and biometric detection
systems. New M3-F focus modules from News
Scale Technologies add motorized focus to multi-function, high-resolution
cameras. The technology increases the accuracy and versatility of mobile
devices, without adding weight or bulk, and also operates from battery power.
Adding dynamic focus enables both
wide field and macro imaging, enabling multifunction cameras to image facial
features, capture video, read barcodes and scan fingerprints with a single
device. Optical zoom provides greater clarity of details for a higher level of accuracy
and security. Auto focus provides faster and more accurate matches in biometric
detection applications such as facial recognition and iris scanning.
"This complete micro motion system includes
the piezo motor, a drive IC, position sensor, magnet and a microcontroller. The
system only needs I2
C or SPI position commands and power input to
command the system to specific positions, and offers one half micron positioning
resolution," says David Simpson, vice president of marketing and sales at New
"What's unique is that we are
enabling our customers to introduce additional functions and features into
products using a module that is basically complete. The user selects a sensor
or ISP, as well as an appropriate lens (from M6 to M12), to transform systems
that were traditionally fixed focus by adding motorized focus and zoom
capabilities," he says.
New Scale Technologies' piezo technology, including
innovations in the piezo plates and miniature drive circuitry, significantly
reduces the size and improves the performance of micro motion systems. But now
they are also providing building blocks that simplify system development.
"Our flagship tool is the SQL-1.8 SQUIGGLE
motor, but we have found that customers have been challenged with the nuances
of integrating the piezo motor with the drive circuitry and position sensor,"
says Simpson, "so we decided, in addition to providing base level components
for small motion systems, to introduce the M3-F module (micro mechatronic focus
The M3-F focus modules are customizable,
fully integrated, closed-loop actuators that mount directly on a PCB-mounted camera.
The modules offer compact size (20 x 22 x 16 mm), resolution 0.5 Î¼m, accuracy
better than 30 Î¼m and step and settle times that are < 20 ms for a 30 Î¼m
The M3-F module is built on New Scale's M3
design platform, incorporating a piezoelectric SQUIGGLE micro motor, motor drive
ASIC, position sensor and microprocessor. The modules accept high-level digital
commands via standard serial interface (I2C or SPI). No external control board
is necessary. M3-F modules have low power consumption and maintain focus
position during power-off, and use a 3.3V input for battery-powered operation.
The M3-F modules have smaller size, higher
resolution, and lower power use than traditional stepper motors. They are less
expensive, afford more flexibility and are easier to integrate than liquid
lenses. They accept many off-the-shelf lenses typically used in fixed-focus
applications and can be rapidly customized to OEM specifications including
mounting interface, lens dimensions, and macro and infinity image plane
part of the timing of this product is that the pace of innovation with image
sensors is accelerating to the point that resolution and image quality is
increasing much faster than the optical components and motion systems required
for focus," says Dan Viggiano, director of custom products at New Scale. "What
we recognized is the customer need to very quickly adapt to the new image
sensors and the higher quality that is available. In partnership with optical
companies, we're making sure that the latest lens systems available to the
market and matched up with these image sensors are directly compatible with a
small motion system."
The motion system provides a closed-loop
control that is ready to accept a lens and can be mounted on top of the image
sensor. It can immediately be used as a focusing module to improve image
quality and expand the range over which the imaging system operates. This is
applicable to multi-purpose cameras, as well as machine vision applications,
where there is a need to focus over various ranges based on assembly
requirements or the parts the system is imaging.
Applied in the biometric and
security camera areas, the solution also provides a low-power solution and the
ability to "mobilize" devices by making them small, lightweight and able to run
from batteries. But what has happened is that customers were looking for a
solution where existing systems that required three cameras could instead be
optimized to use only one.
"Many systems with multiple cameras are bulky,
but by integrating our modules with some of the highest resolution image
sensors available today offering 10 or 12 megapixel resolution, they can use
the module to focus very closely and capture enough detail to image an iris,
change focus to image a bar code on the back of a license, and change focus to
zoom the camera and capture video," says Viggiano.
Viggiano says that systems that
might require three cameras, or three sets of fixed optics, can potentially be
combined into one. Some customers are integrating all of those capabilities
into one, and others are integrating individual pieces. But it is all based on
needing the highest resolution and how to mobilize applications and put them
into the hands of security personnel and locations that can be moved quickly