Scientists often aspire to develop technology and systems that mimic the complexity of the human body, composed of 37 trillion cells. Trying to figure out the entire body may seem impossible, but incremental advancements are being achieved. Spain’s Institute of Microelectronics (IMSE), is collaborating with the National Research Council (CSIC) and the University of Seville to focus on simulating human vision. Unlike conventional cameras, our eyes and brain allow us to perceive and adapt to tiny changes in the environment without storing all the information that floods our field of vision. IMSE simulates this capability using dynamic vision sensors (DVS) in the types of event cameras adopted by tech giants like Samsung and Sony.
Conventional cameras function more like hyperrealistic paintings than the human visual system. They capture an image within a frame and reproduce it. The primary improvements in camera technology have been to increase image resolution by incorporating more pixels for better definition and fewer processing defects. “They can provide a huge amount of data that needs to be stored and lots of wiring to transmit it. However, someone must process all that information,” said Bernabé Linares, a research professor at IMSE.
“The biological retina doesn’t capture images. Instead, all information is transmitted through the optic nerve and processed by the brain. In contrast, a conventional camera’s pixels mostly operate independently, adjusting luminosity by interacting with neighboring pixels. However, a digital image taken inside a tunnel can appear all white or all black. But our human vision allows us to see the content both inside and outside, except in very extreme conditions,” said Linares. This is a crucial capability for developing self-driving vehicles. This feature of human vision is called foveation. It maximizes resolution in the focused area while keeping it low in the peripheral areas, which reduces the amount of information from the retina but maintains visual recognition for decision-making.