Researchers at a US university have developed a chip modeled after the human eye, which could lead to a new type of monitoring device that can interpret and react to movement.
Johns Hopkins University has created an integrated low power chip that mimics the work of the high definition central region of the retina and the lower resolution peripheral vision area that follows movement. As a result, the offering combines image sensing with filtering technology and the ability to track images.
It is based on a combination of analog and digital Cmos technology and Ralph Etienne-Cummings, John Hopkins? assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, claimed it was much faster than traditional distributed component setups that use multiple chips to control the software that process images. These are typically based on an image sensor, a microcontroller and non volatile Ram.
But he expects that one of the first applications for the technology will be as an embedded chip in security cameras. This would enable them to control their own mechanised pan and tilt functions to automatically track intruders.
He added that the processor was originally designed for just such tracking functions and said: "When someone walks in the room, it puts the person in the picture. Or, you could walk around and a video phone would follow you."
The technology could also be deployed in microrobots, autonomous flying machines, extraterrestrial rovers, electronic toys, and in factory environments.
Etienne-Cummings explained: "It could also be used in manufacturing to enable a robot to grab moving parts. The chip could be used for anything that we take for granted that uses some motor action - reaching, grabbing, following, tracking - that would require first measuring some kind of visual calculation and picking something out of the background."
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