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Chronocam wins Inpho startup prize

11 Oct 2016

Paris-based machine vision pioneer impresses the judges at the Bordeaux venture summit.

Chronocam, a French company that is developing “biologically inspired” sensor technology for machine vision applications, won the start-up competition at last week’s Inpho Venture Summit in Bordeaux.

The Paris-based firm beat other contenders at the event, said to be collectively seeking investments of €75 million, to claim a €5000 cash prize.

Overall, 23 start-up businesses pitched to potential venture investors at the event this year, which was somewhat revamped from earlier guises with a broader outlook marketed as “photonics and beyond”.

But photonics remained a strong theme among those pitching, who were grouped into five different categories according to market outlook: namely telecom/datacom; energy efficiency; medical technology; mobility; and disruptive technology.

Chronocam was one of four companies in the “mobility” category, alongside Switzerland’s Insightness (brain-inspired low-power visual tracking systems), UK-based Drayson Technologies (wireless charging) and Primo1D (RFID for anti-counterfeiting).

Contextual data
According to the Chronocam web site, its CMOS sensors acquire dynamic visual information in the form of a continuous stream of pixel-individual data, sensing the context of a given scene rather than the entire data set – meaning that it only acquires the data necessary to perform the relevant function.

That is much more akin to animal and human vision, and unlike the series of static frames containing a full field of information that are typically captured at set time intervals by artificial vision systems, but which are rendered relatively slow, are full of redundant data and blighted by high power consumption.

It should make the Chronocam technology well suited to high-speed recognition and tracking of fast-moving objects, for potential use checking manufacturing processes or enabling safer navigation by autonomous vehicles.

In a video posted on its web site (see below), the company – co-founded by CTO Christoph Posch and Ryod Benosman back in 2014 - claims that each pixel in its CMOS sensors are “independently synchronous”, meaning that they optimize their own acquisition time, according to the dynamic of the scene.

“Each pixel will sample the information only if there is a change in the scene,” it explains, adding that this results in an unprecedented combination of frame speed with a dynamic range in excess of 120 decibels and very low power consumption.

Other start-up companies represented at the Inpho event included controversial quantum computing pioneer D-Wave, laser bioprinting expert Poietis, UK-based terahertz imaging specialist Teraview, and Germany’s VivoSens Medical, which has developed the “OvulaRing” device, a fertility aid that monitors the menstrual cycle using biomarkers.

Chronocam corporate video:

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