Development Story

Vibration Cancelling Function “TiltAC”

Adjusting ±6º Slopes Using a Double Suspension Mechanism and an Actuator
Stabilizing Images in Video Cameras without Deteriorating Image Quality

We have developed “TiltAC (Tilt Actuator Control),” a mechanism that stabilizes an installed device’s position under a shock/vibration-filled environment. This mechanism, equipped with a gyroscope sensor in a device-holding moving section, constantly maintains the sensor’s output to zero. TiltAC precisely controls an actuator’s movements to prevent displacement (angular rate) in a mobile section, and maintains the mechanism’s initial position.

Wide-angle image-stabilizing mechanical structure with TiltAC (image)

TiltAC is a result of the precision servo and VCM (Voice Coil Motor) technologies, as well as other core competencies that Nidec Sankyo has long accumulated.

Our target areas of TiltAC-installed cameras, which can accommodate wide vibration angles and frequencies, will expand.

One of TiltAC’s features is that, with a small camera module installed, it can stabilize the camera’s motion and still images by removing the effects caused by the camera unit’s “vibrations” and “movements.”

Various image-stabilizing technologies are already applied to digital and video cameras and many other consumer products. Two such well-known technologies are the OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer) method, which shifts a lens or CMOS imaging elements to keep the optical axis at an image’s center; and the EIS (Electronic Image Stabilizer) method, which digitally cuts out part of a shot image to stabilize it.

These existing technologies, however, have the practically unavoidable issue of image quality deterioration; for example, in the OIS method, whose image stabilizing movements make the lens- CMOS imaging element relation non-ideal, causes optical deterioration (image distortion) on a shot image, especially its periphery, while the EIS method cannot fully utilize the CMOS imaging elements’ innate effective pixels. Whatever the existing technologies may be, they can be effective in the OIS or EIS method only for “hand-caused vibrations” and in other cases with an approximately ±1º of slope displacement.

Unlike these technologies, TiltAC maintains and controls the entire camera module’s position from its lens to CMOS imaging elements, stabilizing images and keeping their quality unchanged even with a large vibration of ±6 º.

This feature enables a camera user to, for example, stabilize images even when taking them by moving rapidly with an action camera, etc. This means that TiltAC can be used for all cameras whose images have been fuzzy when a photographer shot them while moving rapidly. TiltAC’s applications will expand widely, to cover not only image shooting in hobby and sport events, but also such business-related needs as wearable cameras worn by security personnel and plant maintenance workers.

Our target areas of TiltAC-installed cameras, which can accommodate wide vibration angles and frequencies, will expand.

Though TiltAC has achieved such an innovative breakthrough, on the opposite viewpoint, the product, with a new concept unprecedented to the market, needs to prove its value widely in the world for better penetration. Appealing the competitiveness of an element component such as an actuator would only create a weak impact with a limited effect.

To address this issue, Nidec Sankyo plans to debut TiltAC technologies into the market in a form of video camera, and prove how effective TiltAC is to stabilize images shot in a wide angle. We intend to install TiltAC in action cameras so that they can be attached to bicycles and motor bikes, as well as numerous other applications such as robots and vehicles, and expand the product lineup to accommodate IoT- and wearable-related needs.

In the camera that we are planning to commercialize, TiltAC’s double-axis technology is used to stabilize images from the pitch (horizontal rotation) and the yaw (vertical rotation). Our next step is to develop a TiltAC with a triple-aixs technology, which can stabilize images from the roll (direction of an optical axis) as well. The plan is to create synergies with the improved robustness, another task currently ongoing to familiarize people with the wide-angle image-stabilizing technology.

A camera module is not the only item that can be installed in TiltAC, a vibration cancelling product: With a laser or microwave oscillating module, one can create a device that can transmit a laser or microwave beam far and accurately to its target, with the minimum amount of shaking. Thus, TiltAC’s applications will expand continuously, with no limit.


This motion image shows how a TiltAC-installed wide-angle image-stabilizing camera works: Its center remains still shaking and vibration

 

From a product development engineer:

TiltAC’s ultimate feature is its ability to stabilize images even against such a record-large shaking angle of ±6º; however, such a number alone does not help customers see TiltAC’s applications. This led us to make a prototype camera for demonstration, and demonstrate it at exhibitions to show how TiltAC stabilizes images. We will continue to develop and introduce new features for better market and customer satisfaction.