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We propose a novel continuous-time simultaneous-readout scheme for active imaging systems based on orthogonal modulation of photodetector signals. The superimposed-continuous-time approach presented here differs from the conventional scheduled-discrete-time scheme in that the photodetector signals are summed in a common bus and read concurrently. We show how that our proposed architecture may be advantageous, particularly in applications where bandwidth requirements for a time-multiplexed scheme are highly demanding. The active readout cell presented here is the kernel of the proposed orthogonal encoding architecture. We describe the cell operation principle, its properties and major design challenges. A 0.5-μm CMOS test chip has been fabricated to demonstrate functionality of the readout architecture. Test results show it to be a viable option for highly-integrated active imaging systems.