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Nickname:?Clive Maxfield???? Articles(444)???? Visits(533032)???? Comments(79)???? Votes(236)???? RSS
There is so much amazingly cool "stuff" to see and do that I'm amazed I find the time to get any real work done. In my blog I will waffle on about the books I'm reading, the projects I'm building, and the weird and wonderful websites I blunder across. Please Email Me if you see anything you think will "tickle my fancy."
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Posted: 09:11:41 PM, 02/04/2015

Single-chip FPGA-based embedded vision solutions

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I have recently been exposed to a whole bunch of terms I've never heard before -- things like "Intelligent City Luminaries" and "Non-Conventional Surveillance (NCS)."

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It seems that Altera has partnered with a company called Eutecus to develop multi-channel high-definition (HD) video analytics platforms called the ReCo-Duo and the ReCo-Pro. Both of these platforms employ Eutecus' MVE video and fusion analytics technology; the ReCo-Duo is powered by a Cyclone IV FPGA, while the ReCo-Pro model is powered by a Cyclone V FPGA SoC.

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A ReCo-Pro powered by a Cyclone V FPGA SoC.
A ReCo-Pro powered by a Cyclone V FPGA SoC.

It turns out that cities around the world are upgrading various aspects of their infrastructures, such as their street lighting systems. No longer do we see the yellow-orange sodium glow of my youth; the name of the game these days is to use high-brightness, low-power, long-life LED-based luminaries.

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The point is that a large portion of the cost involved in upgrading these streetlights is the physical act of people actually doing the work. So, while they are up there anyway, why not augment the lights with sophisticated embedded vision and fusion analytics capabilities that can be used for a wide variety of purposes, such as monitoring traffic flow, detecting and reporting accidents, and suchlike.

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One key point here is that these systems don't blindly transmit humongous quantities of raw video data around the Internet universe. That's where the "fusion analytics" part comes in. The idea is to perform "processing on the edge" -- to analyze the video stream, detect things happening as they happen, and to only transmit useful information like "Send help -- a car just crashed at these GPS coordinates." And when it comes to performing mind-boggling quantities of parallel processing in real-time, nothing can out-perform an FPGA.

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This explains why Sensity Systems is planning on using these platforms in portions of its high-speed, Light Sensory Network (LSN), which is currently being installed in several US metropolitan areas.

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The potential for using these platforms as part of city-level infrastructures is enormous, and the application space really explodes when you start to consider industrial, retail, and even home-based applications. If you visit Eutecus's Industrial NCS webpage, you will find a series of videos showing a treasure-trove of example applications.

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These videos depict a wide range of activities, including asset monitoring, security monitoring, parking space monitoring, retail monitoring, and traffic monitoring.

I really think we're poised on the edge of a brave new world. Do you remember the TV series Max Headroom, which started -- appropriately enough -- in 1984? (If you want to be taken back in time, check out this video.) The embedded vision and fusion analytics technology from Altera and Eutecus is a real-world embodiment of the technology depicted in Max Headroom.

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The only thing that gives me pause to ponder is who will end up getting all of the benefits from this amazing technology -- we humans or our creations? Yes, of course I'm talking about the possibility of a forthcoming robot apocalypse. What? You don't think this could happen?

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