SBIR Phase I: Low power hardware-software subsystem for intelligent sensory stream analysis

Period of Performance: 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Thalchemy Corp
1605, Monroe Street, Suite B Array
Madison, WI 53711
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 project will develop an ultra-low power reconfigurable hardware watchdog preprocessor for identifying and acting upon spatial and temporal trigger signatures (events of interests) in continuous sensory data streams. The proposed approach offloads continuous sensing and trigger signature detection from the application processor to the watchdog. Current cyber-physical systems rely on an application processor to analyze continuous sensory streams of real world phenomena to identify trigger signatures. However, continuous monitoring and analysis of sensory streams in software on an application processor requires a significant energy budget, particularly for high volume data streams, making this approach unsuitable for battery-operated devices. The proposed watchdog preprocessor will effectively process multiple sensory modalities and timescales, will easily be reconfigured for a broad range of trigger signatures, and will consume minimal energy, allowing continuous deployment in energy-constrained systems. During Phase I, the module will be validated via software emulation by performing trigger signature detection in a continuous data stream. It will then be prototyped on an FPGA, connected to a smartphone development board, and tested using real time sensor data input. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is to enable continuous sensing applications in a wide range of battery-operated sensing devices, including personal mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and smart watches; wearable health monitoring devices for tracking EKG/EEG and other vital signals; and remote sensing devices for monitoring structural integrity, emission levels, pollutant concentrations, or seismic data. In these applications, continuous sensing triggers context- and location-aware computation or communication in response to sensory stimuli in the device?s environment. Without dramatic innovations in the development of ultra-low power sensory processing, continuous sensing will remain a niche application limited to environments with a stable and plentiful power source. In contrast, this project will demonstrate the viability and potential widespread deployment of continuous sensing in mobile and remote environments. The ability to flexibly deploy continuous sensing for these and other applications has the potential to revolutionize these markets and create entirely new and unforeseen application domains, dramatically altering the extent to which cyber-physical systems can interact with their physical environments.