Lumentum, a designer and manufacturer of optical and photonic products, and Ambarella, an edge AI semiconductor and software company, have announced a joint reference design that looks to combines edge AI with privacy for smart building applications.

Called Vision-D, the design combines Lumentum’s flood illuminator module for extremely accurate time-of-flight (ToF) 3D sensing, with Ambarella’s CV22 edge AI SoC. This combination allows small AIoT sensors with local processing to be blanketed across buildings for applications such as occupancy monitoring, intelligent space management and smart retail.

In addition, ToF 3D sensing maintains privacy by generating a point cloud with granular 3D information, but without any personally identifiable information, for applications such as healthcare and care for the elderly.

According to research conducted by MarketsandMarkets, the occupancy sensor market is projected to grow from $1.9 billion in 2020 to $3.6 billion by 2025, with the vast majority of these systems based on passive infrared sensors (PIRs) that provide only basic information about occupants and the building environment, while a small number are using cameras that capture identifiable features.

This new reference design is seen as opening up new possibilities for adding intelligent sensing with AI processing smarts at the edge, while offering privacy and avoiding the high cost of cloud computing.

Integrating intelligence directly onto these sensing nodes allows functionality and scalability, such as the creation of digital twins for automated real-time space utilization or hot desking in shared workspaces. Other applications include traffic-based hospitality staffing, cleaning and maintenance alerts to address labour shortages, and maximised energy efficiency through the fine-tuned usage of HVAC and lighting systems.

“There are currently two choices for occupancy sensing in building automation systems - basic motion-detection devices that preserve privacy, or intelligent camera-based systems that compromise privacy,” said Jerome Gigot, Senior Director of Marketing at Ambarella. “This joint reference design combines Lumentum’s high-performance flood illuminator module with our CVflow edge AI SoC to provide a novel solution for digital transformation that protects occupant privacy.”

In addition to supporting multiple image sensor inputs, Ambarella’s CV22 SoC also offers a set of peripheral interfaces for a broad range of other sensors - including humidity, temperature and audio – that will help to enhance environmental perception. The Lumentum 10 W flood illuminator module incorporates a high-performance, three-junction vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) array for ToF 3D sensing.