There are curved screen TVs, phones and soon, camera sensors? IEEE Spectrum spotted the curved sensors Sony showed off this week at the 2014 Symposia on VLSI Technology and Circuits in Honolulu. Sony has developed curved sensors with the same curvature as the human eye using a special bending machine to curve the image sensor whilst using ceramic to stabilize the chip.
Purportedly the advantage of having a curved sensor is light rays can enter the camera and touch the image sensor in a straight line. As a result lenses can leave out extra elements that typically correct for distortions, vignetting, chromatic aberrations, and other faults of the glass. What this means is lenses could be much flatter with fewer internal elements and larger apertures.
At the same time curved sensors are said to have 1.4 times more sensitive in the center and two times more sensitive in the corners. This should mean improved performance in low-light situations and possibly sharper images—but we won’t believe it until we’ve tested the curved sensor technology in an actual camera.
As for how soon we will see it implemented; Sony Alpha Rumors theorizes Sony is looking to roll this new curved CMOS image sensor into the RX2 (the Sony RX1 follow up), which could be paired with a fixed 35mm f1.8 Zeiss lens. At the show, Sony showed off its curved sensors in both a 43mm full-frame format as well as a smaller 11mm module destined for mobile devices. It will be very interesting to see what Sony announces next.