Silicon Republic journalists recently put together a list of 13 pioneering technology projects currently underway at Cork’s Tyndall National Institute, including vibration energy harvesting, PiezoMEMS, Micro-transfer printing, electrochemical energy storage and Lensless Smart Sensors (LSS).
“Within Connect (the Science Foundation Ireland research center for future networks and communications), the Tyndall team are working with a team at Rambus to develop the next generation of optical sensing systems,” the authors explained. “As the IoT world expands, the number of connected devices grows exponentially. Industry estimates vary, but it’s likely that some 21bn devices will be part of the connected world by 2020. Rambus is working on technology that will support that connected world.”
According to Silicon Republic, numerous IoT devices rely on sensors, although existing technology is limiting.
“The current generation of optical sensors requires lenses, but there’s an upper limit to how small a lens can become. Furthermore, the inclusion of lenses makes sensors more expensive and they require more power to operate,” the authors continued. “Rambus is working on Lensless Smart Sensors (LSS), which work by ‘replacing the focusing components with an ultra-miniaturized diffractive optic,’ thereby bypassing the issues lenses create.”
As Silicon Republic notes, lensless smart sensors can act as a “key enabler” for wearable imaging systems in the IoT.
“The low-cost phase grating, coupled with standard image sensors and sophisticated computational algorithms, allows the capture of information-rich images in a way that reduces computation time and facilitates long battery life,” the journalists added. “The company is currently working on a 3D position-tracking systems for finger and hand location tracking, with a view to developing a head-mounted system for gesture recognition.”
As we’ve previously discussed on Rambus Press, Rambus Lensless Smart Sensors (LSS) offer a novel approach to sensing by combining ultra-small diffractive gratings with standard image sensors to deliver advanced capabilities in a form factor ideal for AR and VR devices. Indeed, the wide field of view and compact, flat form factor of such a stereoscopic lens-free sensor make LSS technology a good match for wearable eye-tracking applications within smart goggles or head-mounted displays. In addition, the light sources could be near-IR emitters integrated within the periphery of a glass frame.