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KAIST developed an extremely low-powered, high-performance head-mounted display embedding an augmented reality chip
Walking around the streets searching for a place to eat will be no hassle when a head-mounted display (HMD) becomes affordable and ubiquitous. Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) developed K-Glass, a wearable, hands-free HMD that enables users to find restaurants while checking out their menus. If the user of K-Glass walks up to a restaurant and looks at the name of the restaurant, today’s menu and a 3D image of food pop up. The Glass can even show the number of tables available inside the restaurant. K-Glass makes this possible because of its built-in augmented reality (AR) processor. Unlike virtual reality which replaces the real world with a computer-simulated environment, AR incorporates digital data generated by the computer into the reality of a user. With the computer-made sensory inputs such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data, the user’s real and physical world becomes live and interactive. Augmentation takes place in real-time and in semantic context with surrounding environments, such as a menu list overlain on the signboard of a restaurant when the user passes by it, not an airplane flight schedule, which is irrelevant information, displayed. Most commonly, location-based or computer-vision services are used in order to generate AR effects. Location-based services activate motion sensors to identify the user’s surroundings, whereas computer-vision uses algorithms such as facial, pattern, and optical character recognition, or object and motion tracking to distinguish images and objects. Many of the current HMDs deliver augmented reality experiences employing location-based services by scanning the markers or barcodes printed on the back of objects. The AR system tracks the codes or markers to identify objects and then align them with virtual reality. However, this AR algorithm is difficult to use for the objects or spaces which do not have barcodes, QR codes, or markers, particularly those in outdoor environments and thus cannot be recognized. To solve this problem, Hoi-Jun Yoo, Professor of Electrical Engineering at KAIST and his team developed, for the first time in the world, an AR chip that works just like human vision. This processor is based on the Visual Attention Model (VAM) that duplicates the ability of human brain to process visual data. VAM, almost unconsciously or automatically, disentangles the most salient and relevant information about the environment in which human vision operates, thereby eliminating unnecessary data unless they must be processed. In return, the processor can dramatically speed up the computation of complex AR algorithms. The AR processor has a data processing network similar to that of a human brain’s central nervous system. When the human brain perceives visual data, different sets of neurons, all connected, work concurrently on each fragment of a decision-making process; one group’s work is relayed to other group of neurons for the next round of the process, which continues until a set of decider neurons determines the character of the data. Likewise, the artificial neural network allows parallel data processing, alleviating data congestion and reducing power consumption significantly. KAIST’s AR processor, which is produced using the 65 nm (nanometers) manufacturing process with the area of 32 mm2, delivers 1.22 TOPS (tera-operations per second) peak performance when running at 250 MHz and consumes 778 miliWatts on a 1.2V power supply. The ultra-low power processor shows 1.57 TOPS/W high efficiency rate of energy consumption under the real-time operation of 30fps/720p video camera, a 76% improvement in power conservation over other devices. The HMDs, available on the market including the Project Glass whose battery lasts only for two hours, have revealed so far poor performance. Professor Yoo said, “Our processor can work for long hours without sacrificing K-Glass’s high performance, an ideal mobile gadget or wearable computer, which users can wear for almost the whole day.” He further commented:“HMDs will become the next mobile device, eventually taking over smartphones. Their markets have been growing fast, and it’s really a matter of time before mobile users will eventually embrace an optical see-through HMD as part of their daily use. Through augmented reality, we will have richer, deeper, and more powerful reality in all aspects of our life from education, business, and entertainment to art and culture.” The KAIST team presented a research paper at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) held on February 9-13, 2014 in San Francisco, CA, which is entitled “1.22TOPS and 1.52mW/MHz Augmented Reality Multi-Core Processor with Neural Network NoC for HMD Applications.”Youtube Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSqY30FOu2s&feature=c4-overview&list=UUirZA3OFhxP4YFreIJkTtXw
Wearable computer follows suit of smart phones
KAIST hosts “Wearable Computer Competition” in KI Building, Daejeon Campus, on the 7th-8th of November “Computer that controls smart phones with the movement of facial muscles” and 12 other wearable computers to be presented As technology transitions to “Wearable Computers,” KAIST is hosting its 9th “Wearable Computer Competition.” The competition will take place over two days, 7th-8th of November, in KI building, on the main Daejeon Campus. The “wearable computer” is designed to enable users to use the computer whilst moving by limiting its weight and size so that it can be worn as a part of the body and clothing. Wearable computers have been considered the future of information technology (IT) ever since smart phones and other miniaturized IT devices made an appearance. The “Wearable Computer Competition” has been held since 2005 under the leadership of Professor Hoi-Jun Yoo from the KAIST Department of Electrical Engineering. It is the only competition in the nation where undergraduate students use their unique ideas and newest technology to produce computers that seem to be existed only in sci-fi movies and comic books. A total of 15 teams out of 70 made the competition and went through a rigorous selection process based on written applications and interviews to enter the final. The teams at the final received USD 1,400 and IT devices including smart phones to produce a wearable computer. KAIST increased the number of finalists from the last year"s 10 to 15 this year as the wearable computer industry is extending, and there is growing interest in the computer around the world after the launch of Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear. This year’s entries included a product for quadriplegic patients to control smart phones with the movement of facial muscles, which attracted public interest. The product in the form of a headband can be worn by quadriplegic patients or someone with limited hand movement. The user can activate the product by clenching their molars and move the mouse on the smart phones with the movement of muscles in their face. Furthermore, a wearable band shaped device that can control smart phones with simple hand movements is also attracting interest. Broad hand movements of the user allows him/her to receive calls and take photos, and handshakes between users control sharing of files. Body communication can be used to protect private information without a password or locking the device. In addition, gloves and shoes that can sense the user’s movement to play an instrument without the instrument being present; a cane for the blind that converts visual information to tactile; a belt that protects children from sexual crimes; and a game where the user can be Super Mario to play and other practical products are presented. The chairman of the competition, Professor Yoo said, “As you can see from the launch of Samsung Galaxy Gear, wearable computers will follow smart phones as the leader of IT devices in the next generation.” He continued, “This competition and workshop is an opportunity to increase public interest in wearable computers and serves as a communication platform for experts to view the present and the future of wearable computers.” The “Wearable Computer Workshop” will be held this year as well. The workshop under the theme of “the present and the future of wearable computers” invited Professor Kyu-Ho Park, Vice President of KAIST, as a keynote speaker to talk on “ubiquitous, fashionable computers.” Moreover, Samsung’s Dong-Jun Geum and the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute’s Hyeon-Tae Jeong will lecture on the “trend and direction of progress of wearable devices” and the “technological trend and prospect of industry of wearable computers,” respectively. To participate in the competition or the workshop, please visit the website (http://www.ufcom.org) for further information.
Final Results of the 2013 Intelligent SoC Robot War
KAIST hosted the 2013 Intelligent System on Chip (SoC) Robot War, the largest intelligent robot contest in Korea, from Oct. 24 to 27 at KINTEX in Ilsan, Korea. Professor Hoi-Jun Yoo, from the Department of Electrical Engineering at KAIST, started the contest in 2003 to promote Taekwondo, a Korean martial art, and Korean semiconductor technology to the world. The winning team was awarded an honorary certificate from Kookiwon, the world headquarters of Taekwondo. Competitions were held in two different categories: Taekwon Robot and Huro Competition. In the Taekwon Robot contest, intelligent robots loaded with cameras and semiconductor chips competed in Taekwondo skills. In the Huro Competition, intelligent humanoid robots competed in detecting and passing huddles. Approximately 550 participants from 107 groups applied for the 12th Intelligent SoC Robot War and 22 groups were selected for the final tournament. The best teams in each category received an award from the president and prime minister of the Republic of Korea, respectively. Professor Yoo, the operating chair of the contest, said, “The contest was organized to introduce both technology and tradition by presenting robots with Taekwondo skills. The experiences from this contest could be the foundation for future robot technology and the growth engine for the next generation.” Professor Yoo is a leading researcher in the field of object recognition chip, and his papers were often presented at the International Solid State Circuits Conference.Details of the contest can be found at http://www.socrobotwar.org.
KAIST Holds Robot Taekwondo Competition Recognized by the World Taekwondo Federation
KAIST will host the 12th Intelligent System-on-Chip (SoC) Robot War in October 2013, a robot competition. The event will have two entries: robot Taekwondo contest and HURO competition. The World Taekwondo Federation has decided to offer an honorary Taekwondo degree to the winner of SoC Taekwondo Robot competition. The Intelligent SoC Robot War was created in 2002 by KAIST’s Professor Hoi-Jun Yoo in the Department of Electrical Engineering. For SoC Taekwondo Robot event, two robots compete in the form of Taekwondo, traditional Korean martial arts. The robots competing in this event have a camera and semiconductor chips on board, and therefore they have the brain-like functions to identify an object and control movements on their own. The robots have 21 joints with humanoid robot technology on their body for the techniques needed to compete in a typical Taekwondo match. They employ moves such as front kicks, side kicks, and upper punches. In particular, KAIST’s System Design Innovation & Application Research Center, the organizer of this competition, has operated a team to demonstrate robot Taekwondo since last year with the purpose of displaying the basic movements of Taekwondo. “Robots received attention as the source of growth in the near future. We have been developing robotics technology, and as part of our endeavor, preparing the Taekwondo demonstration team since 2012 to exhibit Korea’s robot technology and introduce our traditional martial arts,” said Professor Hoi-Jun Yoo. “We will continue to develop various capabilities for Taekwondo robots in cooperation with the World Taekwondo Federation.” In HURO-Competition, robots compete for crossing the finishing line first by completing various missions, such as putting in a golf ball or overcoming obstacles while avoiding unexpected accidents. The winning team is awarded with a Presidential Award of Korea. The 12th Intelligent SoC Robot War Competition is open to all graduate or undergraduate students. For details, visit the homepage at http://www.socrobotwar.org/.
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