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One cubic centimetre vision system developed

Scientists at the Swiss applied research centre, CSEM, have developed a complete vision system on a chip measuring less than one cubic centimetre.

The ultra-compact Vision-In-Package (VIP) camera, which combines optics, processor and wireless transmitter, is three times smaller than the latest optic sensors and eight times smaller than what is currently used in motor vehicles for assisted driving, according to CSEM.

The camera will be shown at the Sensor and Test trade fair in Nuremberg, Germany, which takes place from 19 to 21 May. It has potential uses in robotic surgery guidance, driving assistance, and home security.

‘By completely rethinking what an optical sensor does, by approaching the technology development for what we want it to do and not simply thinking about how to combine already-existing components, we have created a new way to approach optical applications,’ said Edo Franzi, CSEM researcher and project leader.

In order to reduce the size of the entire system, the researchers based the camera on the principle of a solar concentrator that directs and guides light. The technology surrounding these non-imaging optics was used to produce an image that can be interpreted and correctly read in extremely close situations, even in direct contact with the object.

‘Not only is it very small, it is also inexpensive to produce and extremely energy-friendly,’ Ross Stanley, CSEM researcher, said. ‘By putting everything into this single package, the VIP should open doors to new uses for smart sensors in a wide range of sectors. We are able to provide custom solutions for anything from medical technology with a precision of one nanometre to drone applications for agriculture – all of the capacities are already there, the client need only change the firmware.’

The camera contains an ARM Cortex M4F, 2MB Flash, 64MB SDRam, HDR Log QVGA imager, composite optics for flat (in contact) imaging, and RF transceiver (2.4GHz).

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