Monday, June 18, 2012

CMOS sensor machine vision sales growing or declining?

The machine vision blogosphere has lit up with debate over the trend in CMOS-based camera sales. Well not exactly lit up, but there’s been some discussion.

Machine vision people tend not to like CMOS sensor technology. They perceive it as producing inferior quality images, mainly as a result of higher noise levels. I would say though that in my experience CMOS sensors work well in many applications – if yours is that noise sensitive perhaps there are other problems to address.

However, for years there have been predictions that sales of CMOS-based cameras would grow, taking share from CCD’s. Yet as reported on the Image Sensors World blog, the AIA’s recently published camera study shows the opposite. This shows the share taken by CMOS as declining from around 26% to 21% over the last 6 years.

Writing in the Adimec blog, Gretchen Alper postulates that the decline in CMOS share is because the early adopters were disappointed and gave up with the technology. She then suggests that as expectations become more realistic, market share growth will pick up.

I’d like to offer two different perspectives. The first is that it’s market share we’re talking about, not actual units. Thus, since the market is growing it’s probable that CMOS unit sales are up, but just not as much as those of CCD sales. Perhaps another conclusion to be drawn from this is that buyers are gravitating towards higher-end cameras.

Second, I’d be curious as to what was included in the AIA’s definition of “camera”. How about all those datamatrix code readers for instance? Were they counted? I suspect a look at the source data might clear some of the fog.

Unfortunately, my pockets aren’t deep enough to spring for the survey, so I suppose I will have to remain forever ignorant. But like all good bloggers, that won’t stop me from having an opinion!

1 comment:

Jon Vickers said...

I think there's a need to distinguish between high-end and low-end CMOS. Many first-time users will get burned by rolling shutter effects, but on the other hand the high-speed, high-resolution (and high quality) images that are now available are beyond CCD capabilities right now. Certainly at an 'acceptable price'. While SNR is not up with the SONY and KODAK CCDs, it will usually give good 8 bit performance.