Connected vehicles, robotics, smart cities

Louise Smyth

Chip designer ARM has bought a specialist in imaging and computer vision technology to accelerate its design offerings in new markets such as connected vehicles, robotics, smart cities, security systems, industrial/retail applications and Internet of Things devices.

The technology from Apical in Loughborough extends ARM’s design IP in existing markets such as smartphones and cameras to allow next generation devices to understand and act intelligently on information from their environment. Apical is one of the UK’s fastest-growing technology companies and its advanced imaging products are used in more than 1.5 billion smartphones and approximately 300 million other consumer/industrial devices including IP cameras, digital stills cameras and tablets.

The technology will be used alongside ARM’s Mali graphics, display and video processor roadmap with products including a power-efficient computer vision technology called Spirit that consists of comprises dedicated silicon IP blocks that deliver an on-chip computer vision capability by converting raw sensor data or video into a machine-readable representation of an image.

The Assertive Display IP enables screens to adapt to changes in light by overcoming brightness limitations while reducing power consumption, while the Assertive Camera IP can be configured as a range of image signal processors (ISPs) and software packages, Assertive Camera delivers advances in performance including high dynamic range, noise reduction and colour management.

“Computer vision is in the early stages of development and the world of devices powered by this exciting technology can only grow from here,” said Simon Segars, CEO, ARM. “Apical is at the forefront of embedded computer vision technology, building on its leadership in imaging products that already enable intelligent devices to deliver amazing new user experiences. The ARM partnership is solving the technical challenges of next generation products such as driverless cars and sophisticated security systems. These solutions rely on the creation of dedicated image computing solutions and Apical’s technologies will play a crucial role in their delivery.”

Apical was founded in 2002 that employs approximately 100 people, mainly at a research and development centre in Loughborough, UK. Its technology has shipped in more than 1.5 billion smartphones, including top-selling premium handsets.

“Apical has led the way with new imaging technologies based on extensive research into human vision and visual processing,” said Michael Tusch, CEO and founder, Apical. “The products developed by Apical already enable cameras to understand their environment and to act on the most relevant information by employing intelligent processing. These technologies will advance as part of ARM, driving value for its partners as they push deeper into markets where visual computing will deliver a transformation in device capabilities and the way humans interact with machines.”