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Mobile World Congress 2015 Awards

Best IoT Innovation: Rambus Lensless Smart Sensor (LSS)

Even though the Internet of Things (IoT) may be the most overused tech buzzword in recent memory, what it actually refers to is a huge change in how technology will impact our daily lives. In the near future, our interactions with technology won't just be limited to when we use our computers, phones, wearables and now increasingly, our cars. Soon almost all our everyday objects, from kitchen appliances to street lights to the next generation of medical devices will all be interconnected and sending data about their surroundings to each other. By the year 2020, there could be up to 50 billion connected devices, and many of them will require sensors to interact with the world.

Rambus, who many of you probably only know from the days of RDRAM, was at MWC to show off the final version of its revolutionary Lensless Smart Sensor (LSS). What Rambus has come up with is a tiny (as in smaller than a human hair) image sensor that doesn't use a lens like a traditional optical sensor but collects data through an inexpensive diffraction grating.

Although this initially produces an unintelligible image, by using algorithmic computations built right into the sensor, a recognizable, yet still low-resolution image can be reconstructed. This data can then be used for gesture recognition, object recognition, and even depth and range tracking. Another benefit of the LSS's simplicity is that it has extremely low power requirements. We were told it can run for 10 years on a single watch battery.

At the same time, the information capture is not detailed enough to infringe on your privacy. Although it can recognize that it is looking at a face, it can't tell whose face it is. With the growing number of IoT devices sensing and potentially recording our every action, designing technology that respects your privacy is paramount, and Rambus understands this.