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Motion-Based Object Location on a Smart Image Sensor Using On-Pixel Memory

Valenzuela, Wladimir; Saavedra, Antonio; Zarkesh-Ha, Payman; Figueroa, Miguel

Object location is a crucial computer vision method often used as a previous stage to object classification. Object-location algorithms require high computational and memory resources, which poses a difficult challenge for portable and low-power devices, even when the algorithm is implemented using dedicated digital hardware. Moving part of the computation to the imager may reduce the memory requirements of the digital post-processor and exploit the parallelism available in the algorithm. This paper presents the architecture of a Smart Imaging Sensor (SIS) that performs object location using pixel-level parallelism. The SIS is based on a custom smart pixel, capable of computing frame differences in the analog domain, and a digital coprocessor that performs morphological operations and connected components to determine the bounding boxes of the detected objects. The smart-pixel array implements on-pixel temporal difference computation using analog memories to detect motion between consecutive frames. Our SIS can operate in two modes: (1) as a conventional image sensor and (2) as a smart sensor which delivers a binary image that highlights the pixels in which movement is detected between consecutive frames and the object bounding boxes. In this paper, we present the design of the smart pixel and evaluate its performance using post-parasitic extraction on a 0.35 µm mixed-signal CMOS process. With a pixel-pitch of 32 µm × 32 µm, we achieved a fill factor of 28%. To evaluate the scalability of the design, we ported the layout to a 0.18 µm process, achieving a fill factor of 74%. On an array of 320×240 smart pixels, the circuit operates at a maximum frame rate of 3846 frames per second. The digital coprocessor was implemented and validated on a Xilinx Artix-7 XC7A35T field-programmable gate array that runs at 125 MHz, locates objects in a video frame in 0.614 µs, and has a power consumption of 58 mW.
Published in: Sensors, 10.3390/s22176538, MDPI