Event-based processing of single photon avalanche diode sensors

Saeed Afshar*, Tara Julia Hamilton, Langdon Davis, André van Schaik, Dennis Delic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Single Photon Avalanche Diode sensor arrays operating in direct time of flight mode can perform 3D imaging using pulsed lasers. Operating at high frame rates, SPAD imagers typically generate large volumes of noisy and largely redundant spatio-temporal data. This results in communication bottlenecks and unnecessary data processing. In this work, we propose a neuromorphic processing solution to this problem. By processing the spatio-temporal patterns generated by the SPADs in a local, event-based manner, the proposed 128×128 pixel sensor-processor system reduces the size of output data from the sensor by orders of magnitude while increasing the utility of the output data in the context of challenging recognition tasks. To test the proposed system, the first large scale complex SPAD imaging dataset is captured using an existing 32×32 pixel sensor. The generated dataset consists of 24000 recordings and involves high-speed view-invariant recognition of airplanes with background clutter. The frame-based SPAD imaging dataset is converted via several alternative methods into event-based data streams and processed using the proposed 125×125 receptive field neuromorphic processor as well as a range of feature extractor networks and pooling methods. The output of the proposed event generation methods are then processed by an event-based feature extraction and classification system implemented in FPGA hardware. The event-based processing methods are compared to processing the original frame-based dataset via frame-based but otherwise identical architectures. The results show the event-based methods are superior to the frame-based approach both in terms of classification accuracy and output data-rate.
[Graphic presents]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7677-7691
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2020

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