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Arm-based HMI voice control kit targets industrial applications

Jun 28, 2019 — by Eric Brown 1,228 views

Renesas announced an industrial voice control “RZ/G Solution for HMI” kit that runs Linux and Sensory’s TrulyHandsfree voice stack on iWave’s Renesas RZ/G1E-based iW-RainboW-G22D module. There’s also a mic and a 4.3-inch LCD.

Renesas has partnered with Sensory, Shinko Shoji Co., and iWave to develop a voice control and speaker ID interface for industrial environments. The RZ/G Solution for HMI supports local voice processing without requiring a cloud connection. Renesas also recently previewed a power efficient CNN accelerator for edge AI (see farther below).

RZ/G Solution for HMI (left) and block diagram for the RZ/G1E SODIMM Development Platform it’s based on
(click images to enlarge)

The new Renesas HMI kit is designed to help developers build “powerful, cloud-free AI enterprise/industrial solutions that benefit from wake word activated voice-control and speaker ID,” says Renesas. The kit is aimed at “environments where traditional HMI solutions, like keyboards, mice and touch screens aren’t practical, such as factories, infrastructure and hospitals.”

The RZ/G Solution for HMI showcases the low-power HMI skills of the Renesas RZ/G1E, a 1GHz, dual-core Cortex-A7 SoC with a PowerVR SGX540 GPU and a Renesas video codec with 1080p @ 60fps support. Renesas uses iWave’s iW-RainboW-G22D SODIMM module together with the full, sandwich-style RZ/G1E SODIMM Development Platform. This Linux-driven dev kit is also available with the very similar iW-RainboW-G22M-SM module, which we covered when it was announced in 2016 around the same time as the iW-RainboW-G22D.


RZ/G1E Development Kit with iW-RainboW-G22D module with (left) and without the optional touchscreen

Like the iW-RainboW-G22M-SM, the iW-RainboW-G22D is a 67.6 x 37mm, SODIMM module equipped with 512MB DDR3 RAM, 8GB eMMC, and onboard 802.11n WiFi with Bluetooth 4.0 BLE. The RZ/G1E Development Kit is a 100 x 72mm, Pico-ITX form-factor carrier for the G22x modules.

The 0 to 60°C tolerant RZ/G1E dev kit provides a microSD slot, as well as 10/100/1000Mbps and 10/100Mbps Ethernet ports, 2x USB host ports, and a micro-USB OTG port. Other features include an RGB LCD connector for an optional 4.3-inch resistive touchscreen, an 8-bit OV7725 camera connector, audio I/O, and an optional HDMI daughter board. There’s also a JTAG header and a pair of 20-pin GPIO headers.

As you can see, there’s not much new with the RZ/G Solution for HMI from the hardware point of view. The only major addition we can see is the USB-connected microphone.

The RZ/G Solution for HMI is intended to showcase a version of Sensory’s TrulyHandsfree voice control stack. TrulyHandsfree is a “multiple phrase” technology that recognizes, analyzes, and responds to dozens of keywords at up to 20 feet away in high noise conditions, says Sensory.

TrulyHandsfree based middleware implementation on RZ/G Solution for HMI
(click image to enlarge)

The TrulyHandsfree middleware implementation for the Renesas HMI kit was developed by Sensory partner Shinko Shoji Co.. It has a 1.2MB footprint and uses only 5MB of work RAM with a CPU load of 2-3 percent. The “25KB/phrase/2Sec” dictionary supports English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese.

The voice stack runs on the Renesas RZ/G Linux Platform, which in February received an update with a 64-bit Arm Civil Infrastructure Platfor (CIP) SLTS kernel with 10 year+ availability. The RZ/G Linux Platform CIP kernel is based on Linux Kernel 4.4.

Renesas prepping low-power AI accelerator

In other Renesas news, on Jun. 13 the Japanese chipmaker announced a test chip for a new AI accelerator with a high power efficiency of 8.8-TOPS per Watt. The embedded-edge AI technology combines a new SRAM structure Processing-In-Memory (PIM) technology that can perform large-scale CNN (convolutional neural network) computations.

PIM technology in Renesas’ new AI accelerator

The PIM technology is combined with a new SRAM circuit and comparators that can read out memory data at low power. There’s also a technology that prevents calculation errors due to process variations in manufacturing, says Renesas.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the RZ/G Solution for HMI. More information may eventually be found at Renesas website.

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