Dynamic Vision Sensor tech works like human retina

Aug 26, 2013 by Nancy Owano weblog

(Phys.org) —If technology expertise can advance artificial intelligence, what can we imagine for artificial vision? An interesting development in artificial vision comes from a Swiss company iniLabs. They have developed a camera that behaves like the human eye, based on the wonders of the human retina. Just as robotics developers take their cues from biology, this Swiss team has recognized how biology can inspire an alternative to conventional machine vision. The workings of the human eye require far less power than a digital camera would require and leave less information to be processed. Borrowing from the way the eye functions, the company has built a more efficient digital camera.

Zurich-based iniLabs Ltd is a spinoff of the Institute of Neuroinformatics of the University of Zurich and the ETH Zurich. They describe their business as designing, producing, and selling neurotechnological systems. Their eye-like camera is the VS128 Dynamic Vision Sensor (DVS).

Making a case for DVS advantages, iniLabs said that conventional vision sensors see the world as a series of frames, which is inefficient. "Successive frames contain enormously redundant information, wasting energy, and time. In addition, each frame imposes the same exposure time on every pixel, making it impossible to process scenes containing very dark and very bright regions."

The DVS, in contrast, works like the . Power, data storage and computational requirements are drastically reduced, and the dynamic sensor range is increased by orders of magnitude due to the local processing—no sending out of entire images at fixed frame rates. "Only the local pixel-level changes caused by moving in a scene are transmitted – at exactly the time they occur. The result is a stream of events at microsecond , equivalent to or better than conventional high-speed vision sensors running at thousands of frames per second."

DVS has been built to work with IBM's brainlike architecture called TrueNorth. Just as the Swiss team is inspired by biology, IBMs TrueNorth technology has been focusing on a biology-inspired programming approach that mimics what goes on inside the brain. The technical definition of TrueNorth is "a novel modular, non-von Neumann, ultra-low power, compact architecture." MIT Technology Review explains TrueNorth 's approach in that it "stores and processes information in a distributed, parallel way, like the neurons and synapses in a brain."

The price of the DVS is about $2700 and could be put to work in areas such as microscopy, recording traffic and robotics—scenarios in spotting changes, where quick reaction times are necessary.

The iniLabs team poses examples of what kinds of solutions the DVS brings: "You need to react quickly to moving objects in uneven lighting conditions. Conventional video cameras are too slow and specialized high frame rate cameras produce too much data to process in real time. Both of these conventional solutions require very high and even lighting at high frame rate." That is where the DVS sensor could be of help. The company site shows a robotic goalie with 550 effective frames per second performance at 4 percent processor load.

Another use could be in sleep disorder research. "Conventional video cameras record huge amounts of boring data where the subject is not moving, making it very labor intensive to manually annotate the behaviors." The company said that the DVS "only outputs subject movements. Instead of playing back the data at constant frame rate, you can play it back at constant event rate, so that the action is continuous."

Explore further: Chips that mimic the brain

More information: www.inilabs.com/products/dvs128
www.inilabs.com/images/documents/DVS-Flyer.pdf
www.inilabs.com/products/dvs128/videos

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Chips that mimic the brain

Jul 22, 2013

No computer works as efficiently as the human brain – so much so that building an artificial brain is the goal of many scientists. Neuroinformatics researchers from the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich have now made ...

Recommended for you

Lifting the brakes on fuel efficiency

Apr 18, 2014

The work of a research leader at Michigan Technological University is attracting attention from Michigan's Governor as well as automotive companies around the world. Xiaodi "Scott" Huang of Michigan Tech's ...

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

Apr 16, 2014

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...