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New Miniature Camera Module Emerges for Disposable Medical Endoscopes
The OVM6948 next to a grain of pepper. Image courtesy of OmniVision Technology Inc. 

New Miniature Camera Module Emerges for Disposable Medical Endoscopes

OmniVision’s new module incorporates the winner of the Guinness World Record for the smallest image sensor.

Over the next few years, demand for endoscopes is expected to grow pretty significantly. Tehzeeb Gunja, OmniVision Technology Inc.’s director of medical marketing, reported an expected 30% growth rate through 2023 from dental, catheter, capsule endoscope, robotic surgery, and general medical, industrial, and veterinary endoscope applications.

Such growth in medical is driven by interest in minimally invasive procedures, and the market may see some changes. Because of concerns over “cross contamination,” there may be a “push from reusable to disposable endoscopes,” Gunja told MD+DI. “You may never know if they are cleaned entirely.” Also, a move from reusable to disposable endoscopes could reduce costs associated with repairs, testing, and other instances of downtime in which clinicians are waiting for reprocessed endoscopes, he added.

As a result, “companies are making disposable devices for everything, ranging from cataract surgeries to laryngectomy procedures. Cameras are also being added to catheters,” he said.

To address such market demand, OmniVision developed its OVM6948 CameraCubeChip–a fully packaged, wafer-level camera module measuring 0.65 mm x 0.65 mm, with a z-height of just 1.158 mm, the company reported. The OVM6948 CameraCubeChip incorporates the OV6948, which just won the Guinness World Record for “The Smallest Image Sensor Commercially Available” with its size of 0.575 mm x 0.575 mm, OmniVision is announcing at MD&M Minneapolis. The module can be integrated into a catheter or endoscope with a diameter as small as 1.0 mm. “The OV6948 image sensor offers the highest resolution in the smallest die size,” Gunja said. It also offers the “best image quality and a fast frame rate.”

The OVM6948 module offers medical endoscope manufacturers a “whole systems approach,” he said.

OmniVision has developed a lens manufacturing approach that enables the company to produce several pieces at once. “A glass lens [for a traditional endoscope] alone could cost $250,” Gunja said. “Each glass lens would need to be made and assembled individually.” Alternatively, “our module approach with plastic lenses brings the cost down significantly and could spur a range of innovations,” he added.

OmniVision employs a wafer-level packaging technology to enable such mass production. “We make 1500 pieces together on a wafer basis and then cut them into individual units and apply the black coating. The trick is not to lose any image quality,” he said.

Resolution is 200 x 200, or 40 KPixel backside-illuminated resolution, and the camera module has a wide 120-degree field of view and an extended focus range of 3 mm to 30 mm. It can capture video at up to 30 frames per second.

The OVM6948 was showcased at OmniVision’s booth #1248 at MD&M Minneapolis October 23-24.

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