Prophesee, SynSense form vision computing partnership

Prophesee, SynSense form vision computing partnership

Business news |
By Peter Clarke

The partnership will combine SynSense’s spiking neural network, known as Dynap-CNN, with Prophesee’s event-triggered Metavision image sensors in a single chip. The partnership is focused on developing a set of low-cost, low energy consumption vision computing systems for manufacture at high volume. The combination will produce a strong homologue to the biological vision system.

The event-based image sensing being developed by Prophesee produces a number of advantages over conventional imaging. The sensors record changes in the scene rather than recording the entire scene at regular intervals. And this leads to better low light response and dynamic range, reduced data generation and lower bandwidth and processing requirements and higher temporal resolution.

Using these attributes the partnership will address the design, development, manufacturing and commercialization of the combined neuromorphic technology, including sensors, processing solutions, software and solutions to enable a broad range of applications. The combination systems will be co-marketed by both companies and commercialized by SynSense for IoT and smart-home detection and gesture control applications.

“A recent report by Yole Developpement forecasts that neuromorphic computing and sensing will represent between 15 and 20 percent of total AI computing revenue in 2035, about a roughly $20 billion market.” said Ning Qiao, CEO of SynSense.

Although both companies are European they both have Chinese involvement. SynSense was founded as a spin out from the Institute of Neuroinformatics at the University of Zurich in March 2017 by Qiao. He gained his PhD at Tsinghua University, Beijing and spent time at the prestigious Institute of Microelectronics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Next: Chinese funding

SynSense has been funded predominantly by Chinese venture capital. Early funding of $2.7 million from Zhuji Jiawei and Baidu Ventures in 2018 (see Swiss startup launches mega-neuron vision processor). An undisclosed size of Series A was led by CTC Capital, with co-investment from others including: M Ventures, Ecovacs, and Yunding, CAS-Star and Archer Investment in 2020 as SynSense opened offices in Nanjing and began building R&D teams in Shanghai and Chengdu.

Prophesee was founded as Chronocam in Paris in 2014 to exploit event-based image sensing based on asynchronous pixel sensor technology. In June 2021 Prophesee raised venture capital from Chinese investors including Sinovation, Xiaomi and Will Semiconductor.

The size of the investment was not disclosed but is said to have brought the total raised by the company to close to $100 million from a previous aggregate total of $68 million. Sinovation Ventures is a leading investor in artificial intelligence. Xiaomi is a multinational electronics company headquartered in Beijing, China, best known for its smartphones. Will Semiconductor is the parent of the world’s third largest CMOS image sensor vendor Omnivision Technologies Inc. and invested via Inno-Chip VC.

Prophesee’s other investors include Intel Capital, Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Renault Group. Prophesee has also cooperation with Sony, the world’s largest image sensor manufacturer. Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corp. has announced the release of two types of event-based image sensors designed by Prophesee and intended to improve industrial equipment (see Sony to sample event-based image sensors designed with Prophesee).

Related links and articles:

News articles:

Prophesee in China partnership  

Swiss startup launches mega-neuron vision processor

Europe spends €3 million in neuromorphic R&D around SynSense

Sony to sample event-based image sensors designed with Prophesee

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