Automation through Artificial Intelligence (AI), we feel, is the present and future of our society. The ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), which allows our industries to automate industrial processes, confirms this. To achieve such autonomy, smart computer vision and sensors play an important role. Himax, with its WE-I Plus EVB AI Development Board, aims to provide a comprehensive solution for such applications. The board comes up as an all-in-one solution by packing a VGA mono camera along with an accelerometer and microphones. By leveraging the processing power of the HX6537-A ASIC microcontroller, the board supports all TensorFlow Lite Micro examples, making it easier for the developers to build their AI-based applications.
The WE-I Plus EVB board is powered by Himax’s HX6537-A high-performance, ultra-low-power microcontroller. The ARC 32-bit EM9D DSP-based ASIC chip comes with 2MB flash, 2MB SRAM and runs at a frequency of 400MHz. The microcontroller also comes with “Floating` Point Unit and XY local data memory architecture to accelerate convolution operation of neural network algorithm”.
“The AI vision and sensor fusion solution are ideal for predictive maintenance, condition monitoring, asset tracking, and occupancy detection applications where power efficiency, bandwidth optimization, and privacy are key requirements,” says Himax on the product page.
Ultra-low-power AI vision with Himax WE-I Plus’s AoS vision sensor
The WE-I Plus EVB board features Himax’s HM0360 ultra-low-power VGA mono camera. This camera can provide an output resolution of 640×480 pixels at 60FPS(VGA), 1FPS(QQVGA) and might consume up to 2.5mW of power during that process. The ⅙ inch CMOS sensor typically consumes around 7.8mA current and may even go as low as 240µA in monitor mode.
The HM0360 sensor connects to the HX6537-A processor through a proprietary sensor interface. In addition to that, the HX6537-A enables the image sensor to make use of the power management scheme available on the processor which periodically wakes up the sensor. This lowers power consumption while maintaining the required response time and accuracy in computer vision applications.
A look at Himax WE-I Plus’s on-board sensors to collect real-time data
In addition to the HM0360 Image sensor, the board features two microphones and an accelerometer. The two integrated PDM MEMS microphones are present on the left and right sides of the board, thus providing a wide range for detecting sound waves. You can use them to try out the micro-speech example with which you can build your own voice-activated device or maybe even your own voice assistant similar to Alexa and Siri. On the other hand, the WE-I Plus EVB board also features an STM LSM9DS1 IMU which contains a 3-axis accelerometer. This component is useful for applications where you need to detect motion or vibration. The magic wand example shows how you can use the accelerometer to detect gestures. Additionally, there is a single reset button and two user LEDs to indicate classification results.
Furthermore, some other features of this board are the following:
- FTDI USB to SPI/I2C/UART bridge
- LDO power supply (3.3/2.8/1.8/1.2V)
- MicroUSB connector
- 2.54mm pitch female expansion header:
- 1x I2C port
- 3x GPIOs
- Size: 40mm x 27mm
- Full support for REYAX RYLR896 LoRa wireless module
The Himax WE-I Plus EVB board is available for $65 on SparkFun’s store. The price is quite reasonable for the processing power, camera module, and onboard sensors which it provides. You can learn more about WE-I Plus on Himax’s product page.
The product page is the source of all the technical information and images used.