The disposable endoscopy show has begun and image sensors are under the spotlight ─ An interview with OmniVision Technologies, Inc.

The medical imaging industry has always been a place for high-end technology and innovative solutions. In its latest report “Status of Medical Imaging Equipment and Detectors 2020”, Yole Développement’s analysts estimate that the detector market for medical imaging equipment was worth $4.3B in 2019. It is forecasted to grow to $6.6B in 2025 with a Compound Annual Growth Rate for 2019 to 2025 (CAGR2019-2025) of 7.3%. The medical imaging industry is profiting from global trends in the development of semiconductor technology. In the field of endoscopy, these developments have allowed the miniaturization of camera modules at such a low cost that it is now possible to consider single use, disposable endoscopes where the camera module is also single use.

OmniVision, a key player in the image sensor ecosystem, has responded to Yole’s questions concerning the endoscopy market and especially the trend toward disposable endoscopes. Marjorie Villien, PhD, Technology & Market Analyst, Medical & Industrial Imaging at Yole interviewed Tehzeeb Gunja, Director of Medical Marketing at OmniVision.

Yole Développement (YD): Please could you introduce OmniVision and its activities?

Tehzeeb Gunja (TG): OmniVision Technologies, Inc. is a leading developer of advanced digital imaging solutions. Our award-winning CMOS imaging technology enables superior image quality in many of today’s consumer and commercial applications, including mobile phones, security and surveillance, automotive, tablets, notebooks, webcams and entertainment devices, medical, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), drones and robotics imaging systems.

OmniVision is the leading CMOS image sensor provider for the global medical market, offering the most comprehensive, market-proven product portfolio. We are currently the number one medical image sensor supplier, globally, with a market share exceeding 70%.

Over the past 14 years, OmniVision’s proven portfolio of image sensors, application specific integrated circuits (ASICs), cable and image signal processor (ISP) solutions targeted at the medical segment have been designed into numerous products. These include reusable and disposable medical endoscopes, veterinarian endoscopes, industrial endoscopes, catheters, dental scanners and health monitoring products for DNA sequencing, remote/telemedicine, food and drug analysis, dermatology and blood sugar monitors.

With more than 500 customers and approximately 600 active projects, OmniVision possesses deep knowledge of the medical industry, and strong connections to all leading ecosystem partners and end customers globally.

We continue to invest and innovate in pixel technology development, intellectual property (IP) development and advanced packaging technologies. Our image sensors provide best-in-class image quality and small form factors with highly competitive pricing. Our complete imaging subsystem solution includes image sensors, wafer-level modules, cabling and image signal processors. We are enabling our customers and partners to create innovative, cost-effective and easier designs with a quicker time to market. Our global presence has resulted in a broad ecosystem partner network, as well as local commercial and technical support.

YD: Could you tell us more about your products linked to the medical imaging business and what applications you are targeting?

TG: We are targeting a broad range of applications across medical imaging, as well as in the dental, veterinarian and industrial markets.

Medical target applications include a variety of disposable and reusable endoscopes such as capsule endoscopes, laryngoscopes, 3D and robotic-surgery endoscopes, as well as catheters. To enable the trend toward home health care and telemedicine, we are also targeting point-of-care and remote-medicine terminal devices, as well as diabetes strip authentication, and food and drug analysis.

In the dental imaging market, we have opportunities in 3D scanners and camera-enabled dental tools such as dental mirrors.
We also have a number of engagements in veterinarian and industrial endoscopes.
As we look toward the future, we see a number of emerging medical applications such as medical AI and AR.

OmniVision has built a broad portfolio of products to serve these markets and applications, including an array of image sensors at the 4K2K, 1080p, 720p, 400×400, 200×200 resolution and dimension targets to fit inside a variety of endoscopes. We also offer a family of OVMed® Cable products that connect our imagers and wafer-level modules to OVMed® board-level ISPs residing in the back-end camera control unit (CCU).

For single-use, cost-sensitive endoscopes, we offer a family of compact wafer-level camera modules, using wafer-level optics, called CameraCubeChip™.

YD: You recently launched a new product, the OVM6948. You already had another product, OVM6946, targeting the disposable endoscopy market. How big are the cameras? What are their main specifications and the technical advantages?

TG: Our OVM6948 CameraCubeChip™ module incorporates the OV6948 image sensor, which holds the Guinness World Record for the smallest commercially available imager, at a scant 0.575mm x 0.575mm. The combination of this tiny sensor with our wafer-level module technology enabled us to create the OVM6948, which is the world’s smallest camera module, measuring just 0.65mm x 0.65mm, with a z-height of 1.158mm.

We are inspired to develop these imagers by the growing trends toward single-use, disposable endoscopes, as well as the need to access the very smallest parts of the anatomy deeper inside the body. There are a wide range of endoscopes for different anatomy-specific procedures, which determine the required outer diameter (OD) of the endoscope, within which our sensors and modules need to fit. As a result, we have a number of different wafer-level modules targeting these disposable endoscopic applications.

Our OHCSA product targets 3mm OD endoscopes, for airway management, gastrointestinal, amnioscopic and utero-renal applications. It has 1.12µm PureCel®-S pixels, offers 1280×800 resolution at 60 frames per second (fps), measures just 2.6mm x 1.6mm, with 120˚ diagonal Field of View (FoV), with Depth of Field (DoF) from 5-100mm.

Our OVM6946 product targets 2.5mm OD endoscopes for ear nose and throat (ENT), cardiac, orthopedic, gynecology and utero-renal. It has 1.75µm Back Side Illumination (BSI+) pixels, offering 400×400 resolution at 30fps. It also has 4-pin analog output that can be driven up to 4m without external drivers, 120˚ diagonal FoV, and 3-50mm DoF.
Our OVM6948 product targets 2.0mm OD endoscopes for neuro, ophthalmic, cardiac, spinal, gynecology and utero-renal. It has 1.75µm BSI+ pixels, offering 200×200 resolution at 30fps. It has 4-pin analog output that can be driven up to 4m without external drivers. The OVM6948 has 120˚ diagonal Field of View (FoV), and DoF from 3mm to infinity.

YD: What are the use cases for these products and the differences in terms of markets and end-products? How does OmniVision differentiate itself from its competitors?

TG: In addition to the aforementioned CameraCubeChip wafer-level modules, which are primarily targeting disposable endoscopes, we have a broad range of image sensors that are primarily deployed in reusable endoscopes.

These include the OV10823, which has 4K2K resolution. This targets 10mm OD endoscopes for colon, gastrointestinal and surgery applications.

The OV5670 has 5 megapixel resolution and targets 6mm OD endoscopes for colon, gastrointestinal, laparoscopy and amnioscopy.

The OH02A offers 2 megapixel or 1080p resolution. It targets 6mm OD endoscopes for cardiac, gastrointestinal, laparoscopy, amnioscopy and utero-renal applications.

The OH01A has one megapixel or 720p resolution. It targets 3mm OD endoscopes for airway, gastrointestinal, amnioscopy and utero-renal applications.

The OV6946 targets 2.5mm OD endoscopes for ENT, cardiac, orthopedics, gynecology and utero-renal applications.

And the OV6948 targets 2.0mm OD endoscopes for neuro, ophthalmic, cardiac, spinal, gynecology and utero-renal applications.

We also offer a line of OVMed® board-level ISPs, which is divided into the following two classes. The Mini class offers the smallest and most cost-effective option to integrate into an endoscope handle with Digital Video Port (DVP), USB, Stereo 3D and Wi-Fi outputs. The Advanced class offers higher image quality while fitting easily inside a CCU with DVP, USB, HDMI, Stereo 3D and Wi-Fi outputs.

Finally, we offer a line of OVMed® cables with 0.5 to 5m length, with or without illumination, which support MIPI or analog output imager interfaces.

OmniVision’s differentiation in the medical segment comes from offering the widest portfolio, along with technology leadership. For example, we provide excellent image quality and resolution, along with small size and low power. Customers also appreciate that we offer turnkey system solutions, as well as competitive pricing, supported by an extensive network of ecosystem of partners.

As a result of these initiatives, we are the number one CMOS image sensor provider to the global medical market. In addition to attributing our success to our proven portfolio of image sensors, wafer-level modules, ASICs and ISPs targeted to the medical segment, we also leverage our companywide, long-term investments in pixel technology, packaging technologies and other intellectual property. Because OmniVision serves the broadest range of imaging applications across many different market segments, we can offer our customers greater economies of scale and fast time to market, along with stable supply.

OmniVision’s focus on the global imaging market segments has enabled us to develop a deep understanding of the industries we serve and the solutions they require. By engaging with more than 500 customers who are actively working on approximately 600 OmniVision-based projects at any given time, we have honed our expertise and can share that knowledge to help solve similar design challenges across our growing customer base. We also have a deep roster of ecosystem partners who can assist in the design, development and manufacture of some or all parts of customer products.

YD: We expect the disposable endoscopy market to grow from $418M in 2019 to $2,661M in 2025 with a (CAGR2019-2025) of 36%. From OmniVision’s perspective, what are the main drivers for this growth in this market?

TG: We see a number of factors that are driving explosive global growth in the disposable endoscopy market. Primary among them are socioeconomic trends such as an aging population, the increasing prevalence and incidence of diseases that require endoscopy, and rising health care expenses. Concurrently, we see increasing medical investments, funds and grants by governments worldwide, along with a favorable insurance reimbursement scenario for endoscopic procedures. Combined with the growing number of hospitals, increasing hospital investment in endoscopy and a rising middle class in emerging countries who are seeking these procedures in ever-larger numbers, the conditions are right for major expansion in disposable endoscopy.

This growth is also being fueled by legal and commercial concerns. The risk of cross-contamination due to improper cleaning of reusable endoscopes is very real, and health care providers are turning to disposable alternatives to solve this problem.

Finally, technology trends are driving the move away from rod lens, fiberscope and CCD-based endoscopes in favor of chip-on-tip (COT), CMOS image sensor (CIS)-based, disposable endoscopes. Ultra-small COT cameras are aiding surgeons by visualizing “blind” procedures. CIS are also enabling new procedures like robotic surgery, as well as new technologies such as HD/4K2K, 3D, HDR and fluorescence for medical imaging.

YD: What are your future perspectives concerning the adoption of disposable endoscopes? How do you see the market changing in terms of pathologies studied and applications?

TG: The initial disposable endoscope use cases were for diagnostics. However, as designs become more advanced, these endoscopes will increasingly be applied to therapeutic use cases. As the price of disposable endoscopes erodes, their per-use price will be equal or lower than reusable endoscopes, thus speeding the shift from reusable to disposable devices. On a practical level, disposable is the only feasible option to scale up to millions of devices per year in a short time, as the current COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated with laryngoscopes and bronchoscopes.

Technological advancements will also continue to drive disposable adoption. CMOS imagers continue to shrink, which will allow endoscopes with smaller ODs to be designed using chip-on-tip technology. Wafer-level modules will also support large optical format imagers, thus enabling disposable, 1080p resolution for the larger OD endoscopes used in gastrointestinal and laparoscopic procedures. Additionally, there is a growing trend toward multimodal imaging and diagnosis, where the imager is used to position an ultrasound or OCT probe inside the body.

The extremely small size of newer imagers makes it feasible to be integrated directly into endoscopic tools, allowing direct line-of-sight visualization. Additionally, there is growing interest in a range of applications beyond white-light endoscopy, including the use of ultraviolet and near infrared light for fluorescence, chromo-endoscopy and virtual endoscopy. There are also novel endoscopic applications that are moving toward mainstream adoption, including narrow band imaging, multispectral imaging and light polarized imaging, among others.

YD: The current COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on the medical imaging industry. Has the pandemic already had some impact on the supply chain or on sales in the endoscopy business?

TG: Laryngoscopes and bronchoscopes are the two types of endoscopes where we have seen the most demand during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

A high percentage of COVID-19 patients need to be intubated in order to go on a ventilator. Video laryngoscopy is used in intubation, and has been recommended by a number of medical standards bodies over direct laryngoscopy such as the AANA, APSF, SAS, SRLF and ESA. The reason is that it improves intubation success while maximizing operator distance. Single-use blades with OmniVision cameras are currently in high demand, globally, for treating COVID-19 patients.
Bronchoscopy is needed for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection. The American Association for Bronchology Interventional Pulmonology guidelines state, “Disposable bronchoscopes should be used first line when available”. Single-use bronchoscopes with OmniVision cameras are also in wide use globally for diagnosing critically ill COVID-19 patients.

YD: With the increased adoption of disposable camera modules in the medical business, do you see any other applications for your products in the future?

TG: We see a number of future opportunities for disposable medical cameras. The smaller size of our imager sensors and wafer-level modules can enable endoscope designers to either decrease the OD or keep the OD the same size and increase the working-channel diameter. They can also make infant scopes and allow for probing deeper into the anatomy.

Conversely, OmniVision’s larger optical format wafer-level modules can enable the development of disposable gastrointestinal endoscopes.

We also see potential for the greater integration of illumination and other sensors with our image sensors and wafer-level modules. Non-white-light endoscopy using UV and NIR is another future growth area, particularly for fluorescence, chromo-endoscopy and virtual endoscopy in areas such as cancer detection and diagnosis. New endoscopic applications on the horizon include multispectral imaging and light-polarized endoscopy, along with camera-based positioning for ultrasound and OCT endoscopic probes.


Tehzeeb Gunja joined OmniVision in August 2011 as Partnership and Business Development Manager for EMEA region and was appointed Director of Medical Marketing, leading the medical business in March 2015. His current responsibilities involve leading the medical business at OmniVision including strategy formulation, product management, ecosystem and business development. Prior to joining OmniVision, he was with Nokia Mobile Phones in a number of roles including DSP Software Team Leader and Sr. System Specialist where he was involved with integration of the first GPS subsystem inside a mobile phone and responsible for system design and integration of wireless systems, mobile phone cameras, displays and imaging solutions. Over the years, Tehzeeb has been the recipient of awards for outstanding managerial and technical contributions and excellence in leadership. Tehzeeb holds B.S. degree in Electronics from University of Mumbai and M.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Wayne State University in 1993.


As a Technology & Market Analyst, Medical & Industrial Imaging, Marjorie Villien, PhD., is member of the Photonics & Sensing activities group at Yole Développement (Yole).
Marjorie contributes regularly to the development of imaging projects with a dedicated collection of market & technology reports as well as custom consulting services in the medical and industrial fields. She regularly meets with leading imaging companies to identify and understand technology issues, analyze market evolution and ensure the smart combination of technical innovation and industrial application.
After spending two years at Harvard and prior to her position at Yole, Marjorie served as a research scientist at INSERM and developed dedicated medical imaging expertise for the diagnosis and follow-up treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and brain cancers.
She presents to numerous international conferences throughout the year and has authored or co-authored 12 papers and 1 patent.
Marjorie Villien graduated from Grenoble INP (France) and holds a PhD. in physics & medical imaging.

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