You may be new to the name Movidius, but it’s a chip-making brand that continues to show up in more and more products. Crowned as an industry leader for vision technology and now based in San Mateo, California, Movidius is known for its “machine vision” innovations. The company just began working with Google on its Project Tango, also working on vision processing units, and now USB sticks with integrated vision accelerators. Specific examples include DJI’s Phantom 4 drone having the ability to avoid obstacles, and an AI thermal camera from FLIR, that could spot individuals caught in a fire (Engadget).
The latest from the chip designer will be called the Fathom Neural Compute Stick, which Movidius is calling “the world’s first embedded neural network accelerator”. In it contains the same low-power processor found in said FLIR and DJI gadgets, the Myriad 2 MA2450 VPU, plus 512MB of LPDDR3 RAM. The Fathom was made to be utilized in drones and robots, taking Google’s machine-learning software to “analyze pixels and provide the right context for images”, essentially giving the machines “eyes”, according to PC World. The Google software, TensorFlow, does the vision processing once Fathom is plugged into the USB port of either a device (drone), or developer board (Raspberry Pi). Then, all that is required is a 64-bit Linux OS and 50MB of hard drive space.
Said to bring a 20 to 30 percent higher level of neural computing performance, Movidius aims for the Fathom stick to be perfect in any situation where you don’t have expensive graphics and CPUs. The kinds of things robots or drones could do with a Fathom stick would typically involve the avoidance of obstacles, and better navigation. Perhaps a wearable, like a helmet camera on a cyclist, could know to record when identifying a certain object; or a home security camera could tell the difference between a human and an animal. Both are examples of bringing a “higher level of situational awareness to IP-based home security systems”, says The Verge. The more complex these neural networks become, the more intelligence will be brought to devices. It’s the way of the future. How funny, didn’t we say that decades ago? The Fathom Stick is said to run under $100 once it is consumer-ready this winter.
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