Designing the eyes of the IoT

This entry was posted on Monday, February 29th, 2016.

Rambus recently participated in the 4YFN Innovators Breakfast with IXDS and Bosch at the MWC (Fira Montjuic) MLove Lounge.

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During the event, Rambus CMO Jerome Nadel discussed his take on design thinking, with a focus on lensless smart sensors (LSS) and related partners-in-open-development (POD) initiatives.

According to Nadel, it is essential for modern marketers to be intimately connected to both strategy and design. Indeed, understanding how a product will ultimately be used or deployed by customers and partners plays a direct role in influencing its development. This holistic approach makes it easier to successfully promote products when they hit the market.

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To illustrate his point, Nadel highlighted the continuing evolution of Rambus’ lensless smart sensor technology.

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Essentially, LSS offers a fundamentally new approach to imaging that shifts the function of traditional optics to computation and eliminates the need for expensive lenses by replacing them with tiny inexpensive diffractive gratings.

“The path to commercialization for LSS started off with the understanding that our lensless smart sensors technology would be an ingredient; an element of a stack that will ultimately be part of something bigger than itself,” he explained. “So we’ve thought very carefully about how LSS could be successfully integrated in future products.”

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As Nadel notes, Rambus first introduced lensless smart sensor technology in 2014 as the ‘eyes of the IoT’; launched its LSS partners-in-open-development (POD) in 2015 for minimum viable product evaluation; and unveiled LSS thermal capabilities at MWC 2016.

Working with POD partners IXDS and frog, Rambus has explored three primary categories for LSS-enabled applications: virtual, augmented reality eyewear and head mounted displays (HMDs); automotive safety and comfort; and smart homes. The two design companies also developed a number of LSS-based prototypes in some of the above-mentioned categories.

As we’ve previously discussed on Rambus Press, LSS tech may very well help power versatile sensor clusters in next generation eye-tracking platforms and head-mounted displays (HMDs).

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Indeed, LSS is capable of optimizing future eye-tracking hardware and HMDs via a combination of optimized industrial design and lower power requirements. More specifically, LSS can be mounted much closer to the eye than cameras. In addition, LSS-enabled Purkinje eye tracking, which employs fewer pixels than a focusing system, is actually more accurate than a camera with a traditional lens. Plus, VR goggles equipped with eye-tracking capabilities – such as those offered by LSS – are able to reduce computational requirements for rendering a specific scene.

In terms of smart homes, the tiny LSS form factor allows sensors to be directly embedded into existing products such as light bulbs and outlet covers, with a wide FOV enabling a single sensor to cover large areas.

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LSS is also able to distinguish ‘target’ images using both optical presence and thermal signatures.

Meanwhile, for automotive safety and comfort, LSS is capable of optimizing airbag deployment by enabling systems to precisely identify occupant type, size and orientation.

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Last, but certainly not least, lensless smart sensors could potentially be used to track driver and passenger body temperature for more personalized heating and cooling options.

Interested in learning more about Rambus lensless smart sensors? You can check out our LSS product page here and our article archive on the subject here.