A sample range image taken by Samsung’s new CMOS sensor

Samsung Electronics, a South Korea-based consumer electronics conglomerate, is right on track to début commercially feasible flexible displays within a year and has taken the wraps off a new CMOS sensor for smartphones and tablets that can capture depth information and the usual RGB color data.

According to OLED-Display.net, Samsung Mobile Display confirmed it would begin mass production of flexible AMOLEDs in 2012. The firm will add two new production lines to build flexible OLED displays. Samsung executives previously confirmed plans to build phones and tablets featuring flexible display technology some time this year with spokesman Robert Yi going on the record about the matter:

The flexible display, we are looking to introduce sometime in 2012, hopefully the earlier part. The application probably will start from the handset side.

As for the sensor, go past the fold for additional information.

According to TechOn, the solution employs a single chip to capture both RGB information and depth data in images. RGB images are captured at 1.38-megapixel resolution and depth data is provided in 480-by-360-pixel resolution. The chip is developed by Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, and it has uses in motion gestures that are interpreted by analyzing depth and light information simultaneously. Put simply, the company could theoretically embed the chip inside future phones, tablets and other mobile devices to enrich the experience with motion gestures akin to Microsoft’s Kinect gaming peripheral. TechOn explained that idea:

As a method of obtaining a range image, the sensor uses the ToF (time-of-flight) method, which is commonly used. In the past, Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) announced a technology to integrate pixels for obtaining range images (Z pixels) and RGB pixels on one image sensor. But, due to limitations related to near-infrared filter, etc, it cannot simultaneously obtain a range image and an RGB image in a strict sense. It is just an output in a time-sharing manner. […]  With the new technology, a normal RGB image and a range image can be obtained at the same time by using a single image sensor, enabling to reduce the sizes of gesture-based controllers, etc. Also, the technology might make it easy to add a range image measurement function to digital cameras, camcorders, etc so that they can recognize gestures.

The architecture of Samsung’s new CMOS sensor

This is what the new CMOS chip looks like

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