The world is becoming increasingly dependent on machine vision, in diverse applications including mobile phone imaging, industrial robotics, autonomous vehicles, satellites, and drones. iniVation AG, a spin off company of the Institute of Neuroinformatics, has patented a technology that uses bio-inspired technology which replicates key aspects of the human retina and brain, with the aim to transform the future of machine vision.
Despite ongoing advances in machine vision, a key basic assumption underlying motion pictures has remained unchanged for over 100 years. Traditional systems work by collecting and processing sequential frames of images, producing high volumes of redundant information and suffering from lack of speed and poor dynamic range.
Bio-inspired neuromorphic technology is changing the future of machine vision
Biological retinas function by pre-processing the light and only transmitting changes in light intensity. This principle and other aspects of the human visual system were replicated by iniVation in new technology, which they call the Dynamic Vision Sensor (DVS). In the DVS, every pixel works independently from the other pixels in analog mode, providing an event-based stream of changes as the raw sensor output. The DVS offers several performance advantages over conventional machine vision systems, including:
- Low latency (<1 ms), since there is no waiting for fixed frame exposures, leading to much faster camera response times
- High dynamic range (>120 dB), due to the design of the pixel sensor
- Lower computation and data storage requirements
- Ultra-low power consumption enabling devices with always-on battery life
Application focus areas
A key challenge for iniVation has been to identify the most promising initial markets, from both a technology and a business perspective. Some of the current focus areas include:
- Factory automation and robotics: the need for fast vision response times to speed up production is a clear industry need. To address this market, iniVation has launched the DVL-5000, the world’s first high-speed neuromorphic laser profiler.
- Internet of Things: extremely low power consumption and high dynamic range for privacy-friendly human tracking.
- Virtual and augmented reality: ultra-fast eye tracking is becoming an essential feature of next-generation Virtual Reality headsets. iniVation recently launched Foveator™, an extreme-performance mobile eye tracking system.
- Automotive: a number of long-range development projects are in progress targeting both autonomous driving and in-cabin human tracking.
To find out more information about iniVation’s technology and products, visit: www.inivation.com
Title image: DAVIS346 Camera that uses the DVS technology (Courtesy iniVation AG)