Optical Flow in a Smart Sensor Based on Hybrid Analog-Digital Architecture
Received: 20 January 2010 / Revised: 5 March 2010 / Accepted: 17 March 2010 / Published: 30 March 2010
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The purpose of this study is to develop a motion sensor (delivering optical flow estimations) using a platform that includes the sensor itself, focal plane processing resources, and co-processing resources on a general purpose embedded processor. All this is implemented on a single
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The purpose of this study is to develop a motion sensor (delivering optical flow estimations) using a platform that includes the sensor itself, focal plane processing resources, and co-processing resources on a general purpose embedded processor. All this is implemented on a single device as a SoC (System-on-a-Chip). Optical flow is the 2-D projection into the camera plane of the 3-D motion information presented at the world scenario. This motion representation is widespread well-known and applied in the science community to solve a wide variety of problems. Most applications based on motion estimation require work in real-time; hence, this restriction must be taken into account. In this paper, we show an efficient approach to estimate the motion velocity vectors with an architecture based on a focal plane processor combined on-chip with a 32 bits NIOS II processor. Our approach relies on the simplification of the original optical flow model and its efficient implementation in a platform that combines an analog (focal-plane) and digital (NIOS II) processor. The system is fully functional and is organized in different stages where the early processing (focal plane) stage is mainly focus to pre-process the input image stream to reduce the computational cost in the post-processing (NIOS II) stage. We present the employed co-design techniques and analyze this novel architecture. We evaluate the system’s performance and accuracy with respect to the different proposed approaches described in the literature. We also discuss the advantages of the proposed approach as well as the degree of efficiency which can be obtained from the focal plane processing capabilities of the system. The final outcome is a low cost smart sensor for optical flow computation with real-time performance and reduced power consumption that can be used for very diverse application domains.