Hand-held camera cube reference design enables AI at the edge

July 21, 2021 // By Rich Pell
Hand-held camera cube reference design enables AI at the edge
Analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits maker Maxim Integrated Products has introduced a camera cube reference design that demonstrates how artificial intelligence (AI) applications previously limited to machines with large power and cost budgets can be embedded in space-constrained, battery-powered edge devices.

Designed to enable ultra-low-power internet of things (IoT) devices to implement hearing and vision, the MAXREFDES178 showcases the company's MAX78000 low-power microcontroller with neural network accelerator for audio and video inferences. The system also contains the MAX32666 ultra-low power Bluetooth microcontroller and two MAX9867 audio CODECs.

The entire system is delivered in an ultra-compact form factor to show how AI applications such as facial identification and keyword recognition can be embedded in low-power, cost-sensitive applications such as wearables and IoT devices.

"Machine learning promises a lot: that machines can make sense of what they see and hear like humans, as well as make more autonomous decisions," says Kris Ardis, executive director of the Micros, Security and Software Business Unit at Maxim Integrated. "Until the MAX78000, the embedded world was left behind because you couldn't implement AI at the edge in a power, cost and size constrained manner. Now the MAXREFDES178 demonstrates how meaningful and powerful AI inferences can be run at the edge, on even the smallest and most energy-conscious devices."

The compact form factor of the camera cube at 1.6 x 1.7 x 1.5 in (41 x 44 x 39 mm) shows that AI can be implemented in wearables and other space-constrained IoT applications, says the company. The MAX78000 solution itself is up to 50 percent smaller than the next-smallest GPU-based processor and does not require other components like memories or complex power supplies to implement cost-effective AI inferences.

Key Advantages of the MAXREFDES178 include:

  • Ultra-Low Power : Reduces power budget for AI imaging applications up to 1,000x
  • Lower Cost and Size : Cuts the cost of AI with integrated components, reduced board space and compact size
  • Low Latency : Reduces latency of AI inferences by over 100x compared to other embedded solutions

The MAXREFDES178 is available for $149 (1000-up, FOB USA).

Maxim Integrated


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