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New retina-inspired vision sensor enables real-time decisions, says researchers

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A new device developed by a team led by RMIT researchers and inspired by the retina has potential applications ranging from bionic vision to autonomous vehicles to shelf-life assessments of food, according to the university.

Research published in Advanced Functional Materials describes a neuromorphic chip with an incredibly thin sensing element enabled by doped indium oxide, and able to sense, create and process information, as well as retain information, without outside processing.

RMIT PhD researcher Aishani Mazumder, who is also the study’s first author, said the human brain used analog processing, which is quick and computationally efficient.

“Neuromorphic vision systems are designed to use similar analog processing to the human brain, which can greatly reduce the amount of energy needed to perform complex visual tasks compared with today’s technologies,” explained Mazumder.

“We’ve made real-time decision making a possibility with our invention, because it doesn’t need to process large amounts of irrelevant data and it’s not being slowed down by data transfer to separate processors,” said team leader Professor Sumeet Walia in a statement on Thursday.

Walia added that the device worked like a retina in that it used a single-element image sensor to obtain and use visual information.

“The human eye is exceptionally adept at responding to changes in the surrounding environment in a faster and much more efficient way than cameras and computers currently can,” he said.

The team – which included researchers from Deakin University and University of Melbourne – used the Micro Nano Research Facility and the Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility at RMIT for their work, which also received support from the Australian Research Council and the National Computational Infrastructure.

Their paper can be accessed here.

Picture: credit RMIT

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