Smart devices that wake up with voice commands have gained popularity in recent years, and now researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have taken it one step farther: an always-on camera.
Designed with a combination of low-power hardware and energy efficient image processing software, the always-on camera is capable of watching for specific types of movement without draining batteries or running up electricity bills.
“Right now cameras are very hard to run on passive power just because they burn so much power themselves,” said Justin Romberg, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “This combination of efficient signal processing and a novel hardware design lowers the power requirement and means that some of these other options to power it might be open.”
The research, which was highlighted at the International Symposium on Low Power Electronics and Design Aug. 8-10, was sponsored by Intel Corp. and the National Science Foundation.
While reducing the frame rate of a camera plays a role in lowering power demands, to achieve the power savings needed for this project, the researchers programmed the camera to track motion in a more generalized way that still preserved crucial details about what was being tracked. That requires much less power to process than tracking individual pixels throughout the entire field of view.