When it comes to image sensors, ON Semiconductor seems to be on a bit of an acquisition tear. (Acquisitions are nothing new for ON Semi, as you can see in this timeline.)
In April, the company announced its intent to acquire our Rochester NY neighbor, Truesense Imaging, a maker of CCD sensors. This deal was aimed at giving ON Semi more of a foothold in the high-end industrial market that Truesense supports. That deal went through in May.
But ON Semi had its eyes on a bigger prize. Last month, they accelerated their push into the industrial market, as well as into automotive (which is where a lot of the imaging action is these days), with the acquisition of Aptina, which is a pretty big player when it comes to CMOS technology.
These two acquisitions are coming right after ON Semi announced the first members of its new Python CMOS sensor family.
So they’re up to an awful lot.
Vision systems are an area that I’m very interested in. (In a post I did in February, I combined my interest in vision systems with my interest in things-automotive, and wrote about driverless cars.) So I am quite intrigued about On Semi’s moves in this area. Among other things, it gives me an opportunity to put in a plug for Critical Link’s camera families, which are used in scientific imaging and vision applications. We have a rather extensive line of imaging products , which combine vision systems with our MityDSP and Mity SOM system on modules. (You can find more about our imaging products here.)
Although we did use an Aptina sensor in our first generation development kit, we have not incorporated any ON Semi image sensors directly in our products. The sensors we use have primarily been from BAE Fairchild, Hamamatsu, and e2V. However, customers with special sensor needs, or who want to work with sensors others than the ones we’ve chosen, can work with us to create custom cameras that incorporate a custom sensor board with our processor and I/O boards.
What all this activity on ON Semi’s part tells me is that imaging systems are going to be incorporated in more and more applications: industrial, scientific, security, defense, automotive – you name it. As both sensor and processing technology improves, we’ll be seeing a lot more complex, sophisticated applications out there.