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AI joins thermal imaging for drones, autonomous cars

Posted: 25 Apr 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Movidius? computer vision? thermal imager? Flir? camera?

Movidius, a developer of low-power machine vision technology, has teamed up with Flir Systems, a thermal imaging technology company, to deliver a feature-packed module. According to Movidius CEO, Remi El-Ouazzane, "We are putting together those two separate sensing modalities into one by collaborating with Flir Systems."

The companies have worked together for two years. Their efforts resulted in adding Movidius' advanced computer vision capabilities to Flir's latest thermal imaging camera core called Boson.

More specifically, Boson integrated with Movidius' vision-processing SoC called Myriad 2 VPU can now implement "advanced image processing, super resolution and noise filtering," according to El-Ouazzane. Compared with Flir's previous generation thermal core called Tau 2, the new module is 10 times smaller and lighter in weight, while consuming only half the power.


Figure 1: Flir's Boson

"The cherry on the cake is that there is still enough processing power left on this hundreds of gigaflop chip" that's sitting next to the thermal sensor, said Movidius CEO. That can be used for additional image processing and analytic algorithms.

In short, aside from using the new module for the creation of thermal images, Flir's customers can use it for everything from a vision analysis suite to porting their own vision algorithms, he explained.

No one else has yet combined a thermal image sensor with a vision processor. "Nothing like this exists today," boasted El-Ouazzane.

Movidius' Myriad 2 plays three roles inside Boson.

First, it processes raw imaging data from the thermal imaging core, according to El-Ouazzane. As Pierre Boulanger, Flir's CTO, pointed out, "In infrared, no two pixels are created equal. We have to process every single pixel at many different levels, way more than a visual sensor." The highly programmable Myriad 2 "allows us to run those special algorithms," said Boulanger.

Second, Myriad 2 in Boson performs advanced computer vision analysis.

Third, Myriad 2 acts as a system-level SoC for the complete system, noted El-Ouazzane, eliminating "three other subsystems."

Computer vision algorithms

Figure 2: Computer vision algorithms allow systems to understand how individual features move from frame to frame. These basic building blocks support object detection & tracking, pose estimation and gesture recognition. More advanced neural networks are even beginning to understand very subtle cues such as moving with a concealed object, sentiment and erratic behaviour. (Source: Movidius)

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