PORTLAND, Ore. A smart sensor that aims to lower the cost of automotive, industrial and consumer electronics machine vision systems integrates a DSP chip with a CMOS imager, according to the Swiss Center for Electronics (CSEM), which will unveil its system-on-chip during the International Solid-State Circuits Conference.
The Icycam sensor, the result of nearly a decade of research at CSEM (Neuchatel, Switzerland), is said to build intelligence into firmware, enabling low-cost automotive vision and smart security systems, as well as for optical character recognition.
"Icycam is a new technology based on the combination of our previous CMOS image sensor plus a DSP, and the whole system [is] on one piece of silicon," said Edo Franzi, CSEM's section head for sensory information processing. "The new image array is QVGA [320 x 240 pixels] and features a digital logarithmic compressor."
|The "Icycam" combines a CMOS imager (left) with mixed-signal processing that extracts illumination-independent information about contrast and orientation (middle) and a DSP for adding application-specific smarts (right).|
Last year, CSEM demonstrated a two-chip solution adopted for optical character-recognition systems at banks for scanning checks. It is also being used for smart security algorithms that can spot unauthorized activity and issue alerts.
Automobile manufacturers have been designing the sensor into high-end models to detect lane departures, pedestrians, cars in drivers' blind spot and curbs for automatic parking functions. However, the single-chip device could lower the price of smart vision systems enough to make them standard equipment on future automobiles, the developers claim.
According to ABI Research, as many as 3 million automobiles could include smart vision chips by 2012 if inexpensive smart-vision chips perform as advertised.