Panasonic's new image sensor could help cars see in the dark

Don't expect to find this in a DSLR.

Yuya Shino / Reuters

Panasonic's new image sensor tech is designed for taking shots in the dark. Literally. The company has made an advancement that provides "electrical control of the near infrared (NIR) light sensitivity of the same pixel in an organic CMOS image sensor." In English, that means it can take photos in near pitch-black without losing detail or resolution -- and it does so without the need for a mechanical IR cut filter.

It works by applying different voltages, independently, to different layers of organic films that are stacked on top of the sensor. From the sounds of it, though, this might not be a consumer-focused advance. The press release specifically calls out the sensor's potential use in machine vision and smart car systems.

If you hurry, Panasonic will be presenting its findings at the International Solid State Circuit Conference in San Francisco today. You know, in case you wanted more info on how it all works.