The invisible link between cameras, drones, and VR headsets

July 07, 2017

Franz-July 07, 2017

In today's market, there are a number of extremely popular devices that combine computer vision (CV) and image processing with Wi-Fi capabilities, and all of them require efficient, low-power consumption to extend battery life.

Cameras
Let's start by considering cameras, some of which require robust Wi-Fi solutions because:

  • Some low-cost cameras use Wi-Fi to transfer pictures and video to a computer or smartphone at high speed.
  • Higher-end cameras use Wi-Fi to enable remote control of the camera's functions, as well as streaming the media content to a smartphone.


A digital camera (Source: Hanson Lu)

In addition to Wi-Fi, the most advanced models include smart CV software that performs image stabilization, color enhancement, face recognition, red-eye reduction, panoramic pictures from multiple successive shots, and so on. But because all cameras are battery operated, they also need low-power components to save current.

Security devices
Next we have security devices. Various modern surveillance systems require robust Wi-Fi solutions because:

  • Surveillance cameras use Wi-Fi transport capabilities to livestream video to a predefined IP address, transfer still images, receive remote control commands from authorized users, and notify registered users about intruders, all via the local access point.
  • Smart cameras perform video compression using the imaging subsystem to reduce the Wi-Fi data bandwidth requirements, for example, for HD or 4K video.
  • The most advanced home security cameras detect motion and objects, as well as recognize faces. This information can then be streamed via Wi-Fi to notify the homeowner about suspected scenarios, which reduces video/image storage requirements (for example, by storing the recorded media locally on the camera flash card instead of requiring a paid cloud storage service). In some cases, to improve power consumption and protect privacy, only metadata rather than video/images is sent over Wi-Fi.


A video-enabled doorbell (Source: ring.com)

As many surveillance devices are either portable or are located far away from mains power (e.g., outside in a garden or driveway), they also need an efficient, low-power solution.

Drones
Drones offer yet another example of robust Wi-Fi solutions requirement because:

  • Most drones receive their remote control commands via Wi-Fi from a nearby controller.
  • The high-definition video content captured by the drone's camera is transmitted via Wi-Fi to a nearby smartphone.
  • Mainstream Wi-Fi solutions that comply with 802.11n 1x1 are usually enough to reach 200 meters (line of sight), but to achieve higher data rates and/or longer distances (up to 2 kilometers), we should expect 802.11ac with MIMO (2x2) to dominate the drone market in the future.
  • Drones intended for aerial photography include software that stabilizes the image and combine GPS data.
  • Many entertainment drones have a "follow me" feature that enables them to automatically follow users without any manual control.


A drone (Source: NeONBRAND)

Obviously, all drones are battery-powered, and therefore require both very-low-power components and lightweight materials.

VR headsets
Finally (for the purposes of this brief overview), let's examine high-end Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, the next generation of which require robust Wi-Fi solutions because:

  • VR headsets will use Wi-Fi to livestream video from a nearby computer or smartphone to the user wearing the headset, thereby avoiding the need for cumbersome cables.
  • VR headsets sense the headset orientation and body movements made by the user, and send this data to the computer or smartphone, thereby enabling it to make the necessary video content adjustments.

  • Due to the very high data bandwidth and low latency requirements, an 802.11ac or 802.11ad (Wi-Gig) type of Wi-Fi solution is needed. Meanwhile, to reduce the end-to-end latency and ensure high quality video, video compression is skipped.


A next-generation VR headset (Source: Rivvr.com)

Regardless of the underlying electronic components used to build the VR headset, they must have low end-to-end latency and consume very little power.

Wi-Fi integration is the key to next generation devices
All of the examples discussed above are cost-sensitive, camera-enabled consumer devices that require Wi-Fi for wireless communication, as well as powerful and flexible CV algorithms that will not drain the device's battery. Integrating all of these into a single chip will be a catalyst for the massive deployment of next-generation devices with dramatically reduced size, weight, cost, and power consumption.

The CEVA Wi-Fi IP is a complete solution, and includes RF that can be fully integrated on-chip. Depending on your system's requirements, one of the following CEVA Wi-Fi IP solutions is right for you:

  • The RivieraWaves Sense IP solution for 802.11b/g/n-based designs that support the 2.4 GHz band and data rates up to 150 Mbps. This is ideal for digital still cameras, surveillance cameras, and low-/middle-end drones.
  • The RivieraWaves Surf IP solution is for 802.11ac 1x1 or 2x2 designs that support both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands and data rates up to 867 Mbps. This is ideal for higher-end drones and VR headsets, due to its extremely low latency that makes it the best and least-expensive alternative to an 802.11ad solution.
  • The RivieraWaves Stream IP solution is for 802.11ac 4x4 designs that support up to 1.7 Gbps raw bit rate (using 80 MHz bandwidth in the 5 GHz band).

To reduce time to market, CEVA's partners can provide you with proven and certified RF subsystems that are compatible with the modem and MAC layers. All of CEVA's Wi-Fi products are WFA certified (click here to learn more about CEVA's offerings regarding Wi-Fi and CV solutions)

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