Rambus kicked off Mobile World Congress 2015 by announcing its newly minted lensless smart sensor (LSS) POD (Partners in Open Development) program.
“Individuals and companies designing sensors for the rapidly evolving Internet of Things (IoT) are often forced to code complex algorithms from the ground up,” Kendra De Berti, a director at Rambus, told us on the sidelines of MWC 2015 in Barcelona.
“Our POD program will offer partners early access to LSS hardware along with optimized algorithms.”
Pioneered by Rambus scientists, LSS is roughly analogous to the way a human, animal or insect brain perceives the world: the real-time interpretation of a scene or object facilitated by inherent pattern recognition capabilities. Simply put, data leaving a human retina looks nothing like a map of light intensity, although it contains all the information required to interpret an image.
Similarly, LSS allows sensors to capture information-rich images using a low-cost phase grating. Although the raw ‘snap’ is indecipherable to the naked human eye, the sensor, which is approximately the size of pinhead, is capable of capturing all of the information in the visual world up to a certain resolution.
According to De Berti, the lensless smart sensor POD program will focus initially on five key “smart” verticals: consumer, cities, transportation, manufacturing and the medical market.
“Simple-function, sensor-laden endpoints will become ubiquitous as new layers of smart infrastructure go online. Each environmentally aware ‘lite’ endpoint will likely be tasked with capturing, analyzing and transferring data to various devices and the cloud,” she said.
“Although basic endpoints require less computing power than current mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets, they still need to meet stringent compute and low-power specifications – perhaps even lasting weeks on a single charge. That is why Rambus is offering POD participants early access to its tiny, low-power lensless sensors that measure less than the width of a human hair, yet pack an extended depth of field and enhanced accuracy for ubiquitous smart vision.”
As LSS co-inventor Dr. Patrick R. Gill notes, the spiral grating of LSS diffractive optics (hardware), coupled with sophisticated computational algorithms (software), effectively reduces computation time while facilitating application-specific design flexibility.
“Computation is pushed past the ‘edge’ and performed on the LSS sensors themselves. However, unlike traditional PIR sensors that are only capable of detecting a general event such as motion, LSS algorithms can be tailored to monitor and even ‘decipher’ what is being captured,” he explained.
“In addition, LSS delivers more data (128 bits x 128 bits versus two bits x two bits), along with improved accuracy. In practical terms, this enables near infinite depth-of-field and eliminates the need for autofocus.”
The LSS shield and accompanying SDK will ship to a number of Rambus partners later this year, including Frog and IXDS. The kit offers support for multiple Maker boards, such as the Raspberry Pi, Intel Galileo and Arduino.
Interested in learning more about the technology behind Rambus lensless smart sensors? You can check out our LSS article archive here.