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Prophesee has partnered with Qualcomm to bring a new kind of fast image sensor to smartphone cameras.

The “event-based” Metavision technology will enable smartphone cameras that can capture fast action in comparison to today’s image sensors. The company made the announcement with Qualcomm at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona.

The idea is to bring the speed, efficiency, and quality of neuromorphic-enabled vision to mobile devices.
The technical and business collaboration will provide mobile device developers a fast and efficient way
to leverage the Paris-based Prophesee sensor’s ability to dramatically improve camera performance, particularly in fast-moving dynamic scenes (e.g. sport scenes) and in low light, through its breakthrough event-based continuous and asynchronous pixel sensing approach.

In contrast to normal image sensors, the event-based sensors designed by Prophesee only capture what changes in a smartphone image. That enables them to skip the processing required by other kinds of sensors which process every single pixel in an image. Prophesee only captures the changes, or events, that reflect something that is changing in a moving image.

Event

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Prophesee and Qualcomm have agreed to a multi-year collaboration to enable native compatibility between Prophesee’s Event-Based Metavision Sensors & Software and premium Snapdragon mobile platforms.

The world is neither raster-based nor frame-based. Inspired by the human eye, Prophesee Event-Based sensors repair motion blur and other image quality artifacts caused by conventional sensors, especially in high dynamic scenes and low light conditions bringing Photography and Video closer to our true experiences, Prophesee said.

Prophesee captures speed well using a new kind of sensor for smartphone cameras.

“Prophesee is a clear leader in applying neuromorphic techniques to address limitations of traditional
cameras and improve the overall user experience. We believe this is game-changing technology for
taking mobile photography to the next level and our collaboration on both the technical and business
levels will help drive adoption by leading OEMs,” said Judd Heape, vice president of product management at Qualcomm Technologies, in a statement. “Their pioneering achievements with event cameras’ shutter-free capability offer a significant enhancement to the quality of photography available in the next generation of mobile devices powered by Snapdragon, even in the most demanding environments, unlocking a range of new possibilities for Snapdragon customers.”

Prophesee’s neuromorphic Event-Based Metavision sensors and software will be available for premium Snapdragon mobile platforms. Development kits are expected to be available from Prophesee this year.

“We are excited to be working with the provider of one of the world’s most popular mobile platforms to
incorporate event-based vision into the Snapdragon ecosystem. Through this collaboration, product
developers will be able to dramatically enhance the user experience with cameras that deliver image
quality and operational excellence not available using just traditional frame-based methods,” said Luca
Verre, CEO of Prophesee, in a statement.

How it works

Judd Heape, VP, Product Management at Qualcomm Technologies’ event.

Prophesee’s breakthrough sensors add a new sensing dimension to mobile photography. They change
the paradigm in traditional image capture by focusing only on changes in a scene, pixel by pixel,
continuously, at extreme speeds, the companies said.

Each pixel in the Metavision sensor embeds a logic core, enabling it to act as a neuron. They each activate themselves intelligently and asynchronously depending on the number of photons they sense. A pixel activating itself is called an event. In essence, events are driven by the scene’s dynamics, not an arbitrary clock anymore, so the acquisition speed always matches the actual scene dynamics.

Prophesee uses event-based optics.

High-performance event-based deblurring is achieved by synchronizing a frame-based and Prophesee’s
event-based sensor. The system then fills the gaps between and inside the frames with microsecond events to algorithmically extract pure motion information and repair motion blur.

A development kit featuring compatibility with Prophesee sensor technologies is expected to be
available this year. Prophesee has more than 100 engineers and 50 international patents.

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