Common Platform Technologies
The network environment is evolving at a rapid pace. Therefore, Canon is working to build a platform for digital technologies structured by core technologies. By sharing these among various products, Canon achieves faster product development and higher quality.
Color Management System (CMS) Technology
Unified High-Quality Color for All Canon Devices
Input and output devices all have their own color gamut, range of color they can reproduce. Differences between the color gamut often result in differences between the colors that appear on displays or printouts and the actual colors recorded by digital cameras or scanners.
Canon has been engaged in activities to achieve high image quality and consistent color reproduction shared by various input and output devices. The company has accumulated a wealth of expertise in image management, evaluation and simulation technologies, as well as in image processing technology. This expertise is put to use to accurately reproduce colors true to the originals, to assign quantitative values to preferred or ideal colors for individual applications such as graphic or logo outputs, and to establish target colors as Canon Unified High-Quality Color. The company has also developed design and evaluation tools to achieve these goals and has created an integrated image-development environment.
Canon Unified High-Quality Color is now being used in Canon imaging devices across almost all device categories. Canon has further developed this technology to create Kyuanos, a high-accuracy color management system (CMS) that keeps track of human visual performance and lighting conditions, factors that govern the appearance of colors, and Texture Simulation, an algorithm to estimate possible changes in color tint or gloss due to subtle differences in surface profiles by paper type.
Kyuanos: High-Accuracy Color Management System
Accurate color matching requires a device profile (or color design data) for each input / output device combination and paper media. Conventional technology demands a tremendous investment of time and effort for the creation of these profiles. Kyuanos, on the other hand, has an automated profile creation function capable of matching colors with amazing accuracy to meet the precise application needs of professional photographers.
The color reproduction range of input and output devices has expanded in recent years, making it difficult to correctly reproduce colors using the conventional 8-bit and sRGB standard color space. Kyuanos offers an extended color space for 16-bit and 32-bit formats that allows for maximum input and output performance without color space restrictions. This enables the reproduction of exceptionally vivid colors with rich gradation.
Kyuanos offers an extended color space for 16-bit and 32-bit formats that allows for maximum input and output performance without color space restrictions. This enables the reproduction of exceptionally vivid colors with rich gradation.
Another feature of Kyuanos is the support for different lighting environments. Kyuanos is able to numerically convert colors based on human perception, lighting characteristics that significantly affect how images appear (for example, whether fluorescent or incandescent lighting is being used), and the color reproduction characteristics of the device in question. Using this data to convert images enables color consistency even under different lighting environments.
Texture Simulation Technology
The image quality of printed materials varies significantly with the color and glossiness levels on image surfaces. Texture Simulation virtually recreates light reflections on printed materials by precisely measuring paper surface and calculating the likely patterns of light reflection, absorption, and dispersion. Texture Simulation is also widely used to select proper coloring materials and recording methods for high-quality printouts based on simulations with ink, toner, and other coloring materials on paper regardless of gloss or other properties of the paper itself.
Image Recognition Technology
Creating Intelligent Functions*1 by Understanding Images
Canon is working to improve the functionality and usability of its products by developing recognition technologies that "understand" the content of image data. For example, by detecting the faces of subjects being captured and recognizing if their eyes are closed or if they're smiling, Canon cameras can prevent shooting errors to ensure the best images possible. The company is enhancing its technologies to recognize various subjects and scenes in order to extend its application area, for example high image quality processing and security domain such as surveillance cameras.
- *1 Intelligent functions
Functions capable of judgement as well as or better than humans. For example device controls such as autofocus, user interface, image retrieval and so on
User Interface (UI) Technology
Operability as It was Meant to Be
Today's mobile information devices, such as smartphones and tablet PCs, have user interfaces that go beyond simply offering easy and efficient operability. They make using the devices enjoyable, reflecting an evolution that creates new value and relationships between users and the systems.
Realizing Operability as It was Meant to Be
Canon is working to develop various UI technologies that provide ease of use by accurately operating in accordance with users' intent and objectives.
To allow users to intuitively operate complicated functions on digital devices, Canon is developing multi-modal (i.e., different senses, such as sight, hearing / sound and touch) input technologies that detect and recognize written text, voices and gestures.
It is important that user interfaces not only provide intuitive feedback to users' operation, but also accurately display (output) the system's status and operating results as well as text, graphics and other information. To support this, Canon is developing rendering technologies that optimally display results based on the size and type of display being used, along with display technologies that deliver smooth animations and video for even richer visual expression. In addition, Canon is pursuing natural-sounding speech-synthesis technologies to convey information in a non-visual format.
To create new value, Canon continues to develop technologies that make ideal UI's possible based on the advanced features and services being used.
Communication Network Technology
Achieving Connectivity for Canon Products
Canon is now developing communication network technologies to connect cameras, printers, and other Canon products to networks and transmits high-quality Canon images / videos out into the world. The easy / secure, and high-speed / power-saving features of these technologies take connectivity to a new level.
Wireless Network Technology
Wireless network technology provides a high-speed wireless network environment that can be used anytime and anywhere.
Canon has been improving network performance and enabling easy, secure network connectivity by developing ways to embed standard network technologies such as Wireless LAN (Wi-Fi) into cameras, printers, and other products. Now developed as a common platform, wireless network technology has been optimized for Canon products.
Canon is also developing Near Field Communication Technology to collaborate wirelessly with smartphones, and public wireless technology.
Furthermore, creating a system for interconnecting a variety of input and output devices, working on the development of network middleware for automatically connecting devices using different specifications, and the standardization of wireless technology, with the aim of quickly resolving inconveniences faced by users.
High-quality Video Communication Technology
Transmitting video images among networked devices requires technologies capable of controlling signals affected by external factors and transmission quality. Canon's high-speed video-network technology enables high-speed transmission of super high vision through networks while preserving the high-definition image quality.
Through the use of this technology, the company is also developing technologies to provide a realistic communication experience among remote locations.
Millimeter Wave Wireless Technology
Millimeter wave wireless technology is a technology for transmitting uncompressed full-HD images and other large-volume data at ultra-high speeds. The technology is expected to be adopted for actual use with the standardization of the WirelessHD Consortium*2 and WiGig Alliance.*3 Canon is developing a technology to transfer higher-than-full-HD images to multiple video devices simultaneously. This technology will realize dual projection, a system for wirelessly projecting panoramic images over two full-HD screens from two remote projectors.
- *2 WirelessHD Consortium
A special interest group formed to create the technical specifications for the transmission of signals of HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), a digital video and audio input / output interface, for TV sets, video cameras, and other audio-visual equipment. HDMI transmits signals over the millimeter wave spectrum.
- *3 WiGig Alliance (Wireless Gigabit Alliance)
An industry association established to develop a unified specification for short-distance, high-speed digital radio wave communications over the millimeter wave spectrum. The WiGig Alliance also promotes the standardization of IEEE802.11ad, a next-generation WLAN standard.
Cloud Service Platform Technologies
Realizing Collaboration between Digital Devices and Cloud Services
Canon is developing cloud service platform technologies to provide solutions collaborated with digital devices and cloud services.
This service platform comprises technologies employed in Canon's imaging and documentation services, areas in which the company excels, such as data conversion, authentication, big data analysis, distributed processing and security. The platform will facilitate compatibility with various cloud services while streamlining the service creation process.
Data Conversion Technology
Collaboration between digital devices and cloud services offers users a wider potential range of functions. For example, cloud-based print services do away with the need for the printer drivers which were required on PCs. Additionally, users can print cloud-based data from smartphones and similar devices as well as data stored using cloud services offered by other companies. To facilitate such functionality, Canon developed data conversion technologies that converts data formats into a printer-output format for convenient printing.
Cloud Authentication Technology (Single Sign-On)
User authentication is required when accessing cloud services. This, however, requires that users enter their ID and login password for every site they visited. To streamline this process, Canon developed a Single Sign-On technology, which allows users to bypass identification authentication after the first time. Canon's Single Sign-On system offers convenience to users accessing Canon services as well as those offered by other providers, or when using Canon devices in conjunction with services offered by Canon and other companies.
Ensuring the Security of Canon Products and Services
Security technologies are crucial for Canon products and services to protect against such threats as information leakage and falsification, and unauthorized access.
Accordingly, Canon developed its proprietary C-SELECT, an encryption and authentication library for general use not limited to embedded products. The C-SELECT library currently supports more than 20 types of encryption algorithms, including symmetric-key and public-key encryption, and hash functions. C-SELECT is compliant with FIPS 140,*4 an official validation that assures an industry-recognized level of security.
In addition, Canon is developing security-countermeasure technologies that safeguard against product vulnerabilities. Several of Canon's products have received CC certification,*5 an objective assurance by an international standard that security-countermeasure technologies work properly.
- *4 FIPS 140
FIPS (Federal Information Processing Standards) are U.S. Government computer security standards that specify requirements for the security of cryptography modules.
- *5 CC (Common Criteria)
An international standard for computer security certification to confirm that products and systems relating to information security technology are properly designed and that the designs are correctly incorporated
Image Retrieval Technology
Searching for Similar Images and Video Clips
The widespread popularity of digital cameras and video camcorders, increase in hard disk and memory card capacities, has led to a greater ability to shoot and store digital photos and video. On the other hand, because of the increased size of data stored, and of the capacity of databases containing images, it has become difficult to search for specific desired images out from a large volume of data.
Canon's image retrieval technology enables users to quickly and accurately search for images by using characteristic information of images themselves, and without the need to search in the keywords section.
Image Retrieval Technology
Canon's image retrieval technology searches image databases for images containing objects specified by the user.
This technology performs searches using many local characteristics found in the desired photo subject, checking them against other images in the database, and returning the search results containing all images which have any parts matching the searched characteristics. This makes it possible to quickly and accurately search large databases for images, even without remembering the image clearly. Highly reproducible characteristics are prioritized in the search, preventing potential search results from being overlooked due to the images being rotated, expanded, or reduced, or due to image degradation because of image scanning or compression of the original image.
In order to make the search even faster, the image features identified as characteristics are compressed to 1 / 4 their original data size, and combined with original indexing technology developed by Canon. With this combination, Canon achieved one of the fastest search speed in the industry (under equivalent operating environments).
Real-Time Embedded OS Platform
DRYOS is an embedded real-time operating system*6 developed by Canon for use in compact devices and employed in a wide range of company products such as digital cameras and digital video camcorders. The kernel module,*7 which represents the heart of the system, facilitates customization to meet the needs of device and hardware resources, and it features a flexible structure that can be expanded in size from a minimum of 16 KB. It currently supports more than 10 types of embedded CPUs, and by supporting the use of an OS simulation development environment on PCs, makes it possible to develop software products without the need to operate them on prototype devices.
In response to the demand for ever-more multifaceted digital products, Canon has developed various kinds of middleware for file systems for today's memory cards with ever-expanding capacity and for the TCP / IP network stack*8 required for wireless internet connection.
The company is also engaged in the development of embedded products that match the advanced features and real-time performance of PCs by incorporating two OSs, DRYOS and Linux (an open-source general-purpose OS) in a single system.
By developing the OS platform software in-house for system infrastructure, Canon can promote the reuse and sharing of software modules while meeting the growing demand for high-performance, high-functionality devices.
- *6 Real-time operating system
An operating system that processes in real time. Such operating systems are often embedded in devices.
- *7 Kernel
The core part of an operating system that manages system resources such as the CPU, memory, and peripherals, and provides basic functions to ensure that hardware and software run efficiently.
- *8 TCP/IP network stack
A suite of software needed to work with the TCP / IP communications protocol for interfacing with the Internet.
System LSI Integrated Design Environment
Ensuring Efficient Development of Large-Scale System LSI
Canon develops its own system LSIs,*9 single-chip ICs that contain all system components, including the hardware and software necessary to run the device. Though scaled on the order of square millimeters or centimeters, these tiny chips contain extremely large systems engineered to perform important device functions. Since the 1990s, Canon has left competitors behind in the development of DIGICs, iR Controllers, L-COAs, and other LSIs key to the further miniaturization and expanding functionality of electronic devices.
Development of LSIs combining multiple functions requires collaboration among many engineers and an efficient development environment. Canon has developed a highly efficient system LSI integrated design environment that consolidates the entire development process, from specification study to physical design.
- *9 System LSI
A System LSI is a large-scale integrated circuit that contains functions provided by the CPU, memory, and dedicated LSI on a single chip. System LSIs reduce operating time by running without complicated wiring in device configurations with multiple chips. Furthermore, the area taken up on a circuit board is reduced, making it possible to reduce the size of the circuit board, resulting in a more compact device.
Design Support Environment
Canon has developed a unique design support tool called MayDay to streamline LSI design compatible with the common workflow. MayDay, an easy to understand GUI -based tool, supports communication and job progress for each member of a development team, which may include several hundred people. The compute farm underlying MayDay automatically activates the tool, managing a license pool for numerous CPUs and tools, and distributes the appropriate computing servers and licenses according to the demand for such resources.
Configuration management allows the easy reuse of design assets by making possible the management of design-results files and entire directories needed for compilations and simulations.
Resource management is a technique for continuously monitoring the use of design environments as a means of optimizing investment.
Defect management allows compound retrieval of conditions through the sharing of bug information among individual projects linked in the development flow.
Physical Design Technology
A single system LSI chip contains 100 million or more integrated elements. Physical design technology optimizes the architecture and interconnection of the elements for operation at clock speeds in the hundreds-of-MHz range. For finer design LSI process technology and even higher performance and integration, electronic makers now demand analytical techniques accurate to the pico second, microvolt, and nanometer, along with design and optimization workflows integrating fabrication at every level, from the single LSI chip to the whole printed circuit board.
Software Design and Verification Technologies
Enhancing the Quality and Productivity of Embedded Software
Aiming to enhance the quality and productivity of the software incorporated in its products, Canon is developing technologies and establishing an environment for software design and verification spanning the entire software-development process.
Among upstream processes, during the system design stage, cooperative-design technologies are used to determine whether software works properly in cooperation with the ever-diversifying hardware. Meanwhile, formal verification technologies are used to mathematically confirm that behavior models for the designed system software are accurate. As for downstream processes, Canon is working on technologies to automate the repeated testing required when carrying out software modification.
Automated Testing Technology
Testing accounts for a high proportion of the man hours required in software development, thus the benefits of automated testing would result in substantial savings in labor. Through all-night automatic testing in series, such as build unit testing, coverage determination and performance measurement, Canon seeks to save labor, prevent test omissions and stabilize quality during the repetitive testing (regression tests) required for software modification.
The Ultimate in Quality Assurance
Dependability is the ability of a system to deliver service that can justifiably be trusted.
Service failures are caused by faults, which can occur anytime or anywhere. For example, failures can be caused by degradation over time of components and materials, poor human judgment or behavior, and interactive complexity of networks, as well as changes in system environments, social systems or user practices, and even technological advancements.
In the inevitable presence of such a variety of faults, dependable systems consistently deliver services that meet and satisfy users' expectations without causing any failures. Dependability is a concept based on ultimate quality assurance, which ensures security and reliability in a rapidly changing, increasingly interdependent and complicated information society. Canon believes dependability is invaluable in all of its fields of operation, and so is pursuing it as a business philosophy.
In-Process Visualization Technology
Analyzing Device Operating Mechanisms
In-process visualization technology enables the direct observation (optical observation) of the processes that take place within actual devices to reveal their operating mechanisms. This technology has been useful in revealing toner development and fixing processes, in addition to the ink-ejection process, in Canon products and has contributed to product design and technological innovation.
The diameter of a single toner particle in a laser printer or MFP is several µm,*10 and the volume of a single ink droplet in an inkjet printer is 1 pl.*11 In addition to being exceptionally small, they also move at incredibly high speeds, making it very difficult to accurately track them. Furthermore, because these phenomena occur in narrow spaces deep within products, simply viewing them poses a challenge. Advanced technologies including the creation of sample devices, shooting with ultra-high-speed cameras, and image analysis are used to observe the phenomena.
- *10 µm (micrometer) : 1 µm = one millionth of a meter
- *11 pl (picoliter) : 1 pl = one trillionth of a liter
Visualizing the Toner Development Process
This visualizing technology is used to observe toner particles as they fly towards the photosensitive drum. Based on these observations, engineers can analyze the movement and regularity of toner flying minute distances, which enables the clarification of mechanical positioning and optimal control voltages.
Visualizing the Toner-Fixing Process
Using an observation device, Canon is able to view the melting, expansion, and re-hardening of toner on the fixing component. Simulations performed by incorporating mechanical data measuring temperature, pressure, and displacement have contributed to the development of fixing-mechanism components and an understanding of the behavior of the toner itself.
Visualizing the Ink Droplet Ejection Process
Because the ink-ejection process takes place at ultrahigh speeds under which the time from ejection to fixing on paper is less than 1 / 10,000 of a second, Canon has developed analysis technology combining spatial analysis capabilities at a scale approaching the wavelength of light with time analysis capabilities at the one-millionth of a second level.
Analyzing Phenomena to Predict Product Performance
During product development, simulation technologies used to analyze phenomena and predict product performance support technological research and enable the shortening of development times.
Simulating the Electrophotographic Process
The electrophotographic process used to form images in laser printers and MFPs consists of charging, exposure, latent image, development, transfer, fixing, and cleaning. Each of these processes, vital for forming images, entails multiple and complex phenomena that until now were difficult to model mathematically.
Canon developed its own simulation technologies for these electrophotographic processes, enabling technological innovation and ensuring improved product-development efficiency.
Simulation of Inkjet Heads
When developing inkjet print heads, the structure of the nozzles, which ensure the optimal ejection of ink droplets, is a critical design point. Canon developed a simulation program for calculating ink ejection phenomena, which was then applied successfully to calculate ejection behavior based on nozzle structures and drive conditions. The program has made it possible to identify the relationship between nozzle structures and ejection characteristics before prototyping, enabling the short-cycle development of high-performance print heads.
Ultrasonic Motor (USM)
Focus and Zoom Drive Mechanisms Using Ultrasonic Vibration
Canon realized the world's first practical application of an Ultrasonic Motor (USM), incorporating the highly advanced motor as the focus drive in the company's interchangeable lenses for SLR cameras.
Piezoelectric ceramic elements cause an elastic body, called a stator, to flex, and these flexural oscillating ultrasonic waves progress along the circumference, causing elliptical rotation of the stator surface. This makes the rotor, which is in contact with the stator, to rotate in the opposite direction of the ultrasonic wave due to elliptical rotation friction. USM is a superior control technology that provides high torque and response. Furthermore, it produces little operating noise and is easy to employ in lenses, making it the ideal autofocus drive motor for EF lenses.
Canon has developed USMs that are optimal for EF lenses to realize the characteristics EF lenses are known for, such as quiet, fast focus drive and full-time manual focusing performance. USMs are also used in the fast zoom drives of digital compact camera zoom lenses.
Organic Light Emitting Diode Displays
Toward More Convenient Mobile Devices
OLED displays are self-emitting displays based on the phenomenon of organic electro-luminescence, which occurs when voltage is applied to excite organic materials between two electrodes. They have high image quality and are light and compact, with low power consumption, making them attractive for use as displays in mobile telephones and other portable devices.
Canon, aiming to realize high performance, low-cost OLED displays, carried out the development process in-house, from organic materials to devices and processes.
To develop the organic materials, Canon applied the principles of the organic photo-conductors that it had developed for use in the field of electro-photography and further developed electron injection transport materials, as well as dopant materials and RGB light-emitting materials for increasing emission performance.
The system adopts a "top emission" structure that casts light to the encapsulation layer side, ensuring a wide aperture ratio to enable highly efficient light emission. Because organic films are color-coded using high-precision mask deposition technology to ensure that RGB luminescent materials emit light for each color, color filters and color conversion are not required. Active matrix TFT substrates are used to drive the pixels.
In terms of manufacturing technology, Canon is working closely with Group companies Canon ANELVA Corporation and Canon Tokki Corporation, who have developed vacuum processing technologies, and is also collaborating with Japan Display Inc. in order to produce OLED with high levels of efficiency, color purity, and longevity.
Accurately Detecting Movements on a Nanometer Scale
Encoders are sensors that measure the angle of or distance traveled by an object by attaching a scale to the target object and counting the scale. Canon has developed ultra-precise, ultra-accurate encoders using cutting-edge optical measurement technology.
Laser Rotary Encoders (LRE)
Laser rotary encoders detect angles using light analysis*12 and interference,*13 employing semiconductor lasers as the light source. The use of proprietary prism optics enables the creation of more compact devices. LREs are used to adjust the angle of industrial robot arms and camera platforms for broadcasting cameras.
- *12 Light analysis
A property of light. Light travels in waves which, upon striking an object, curve around into the shadow of the object. This phenomenon is known as diffraction.
- *13 Interference
A property of light. Light travels in waves and becomes brighter when combined with light of the same phase. When combined with light with a phase that differs by 180 degrees, the two will cancel each other out, resulting in darkness. This phenomenon is known as interference.
Micro Linear Encoders (MLE)
Micro linear encoders, which use a unique light reflection-diffraction interferometer with LEDs as a light source, realize ultra-long life spans and an ultra-compact size. When used with a 1,000-part splitter, they achieve a maximum resolution capability of 0.8 nm.*14 MLEs are used in stage sensors in semiconductor lithography tools, hard disk inspection equipment, and semiconductor measuring equipment.
- *14 nm (nanometer) : 1 nm = one billionth of a meter
Laser Doppler Velocimeter
Noncontact Precise Detection of Velocity Inconsistencies and Rotation Inconsistencies
A laser Doppler velocimeter is a device that measures the velocity of a moving or rotating object without coming into contact with the object by illuminating it with a laser through an afocal optical system.*15
Laser light is converted into parallel beams using a collimator lens and split using a diffraction grating. Two lights with different frequencies created by an E / O frequency shifter (an element that shifts the frequency) are used to illuminate the measured object, and the scattered light is passed through a collecting lens to be read by a photodiode. The velocity is then measured based on the beat signal (Doppler frequency) of the light obtained. The system enables the measuring of speeds from a state of rest to -200 to 2,000 mm, -50 to 5,000 mm per second. The technology is used in R&D and production lines for detecting paper transport speeds and velocity irregularities in printers and digital MFPs, detecting rotation irregularities in photosensitive drums, and detecting rotation and feed inconsistencies in the drive units of machine tools.
- *15 Afocal optical system
An optical system without a focal point (infinite focal length), in which the same parallel light that enters the lens also leaves the lens. The system is used in telescopes and beam expanders (an optical module for expanding the beam diameter of laser light).
Achieving Advanced Laser Processing
Laser-processing machines are devices that rotate mirrors at high speeds to determine the position of laser light to perform boring, cutting, and trimming processes.
Canon's galvano scanner,*16 which utilizes proprietary encoder technology, is a high-precision laser scanner incorporated into laser processing machines. Combined with fully closed digital servo technology to provide optimal control in accordance with the application, the scanner detects mirror angles. Galvano scanners provide excellent positioning precision and repetitive reproduction capability along with high-speed performance. Incorporated into laser via-hole*17 drilling devices and 3D molding devices, they play an instrumental role in the processing of high-density circuit boards for mobile phones, and the production of flat panel displays and solar panels.
- *16 Galvano scanner
A scanner that applies a system employing a high-sensitive ammeter, or galvanometer. The word galvano is derived from the name of Italian physicist Luigi Galvani.
- *17 Via-hole
A hole used for connecting circuit wiring created on each substrate in multi-layered substrates.
Micro Laser Interferometer
Ultra-Sensitive Displacement Detection at 0.08 nm
Laser interferometers employ laser light for noncontact measurement of the movement (displacement and vibration) of objects with reflective surfaces. Canon developed a microlaser interferometer based on the Michelson interferometer method*18 that achieves an ultra-high resolution of 0.08 nm.
The light and compact interferometer weighs about 50 grams and measures a mere 38 mm (W) x 47 mm (D) x 19 mm (H) due to a unique optical design utilizing semiconductor lasers. This compact size enables the device to be used in piezo-electric measurement in automobile fuel injection equipment, wafer-stage position controllers for EB (Electron Beam) lithography and semiconductor lithography equipment, and microvibration analyzers in precision driving machines.
- *18 Michelson interferometer method
Light from a light source is split into two or more beams and the light reflected by the object (measurement light) is recombined with the light reflected by a fixed reflective surface (reference light).