GoPhotonics interviewed Ziv Livne, the Chief Business Officer at TriEye. Ziv Livne is part of the founding team that achieved a mass-scale technological breakthrough in record time, creating a giant leap in automotive safety. He has vast experience in R&D, product, and business development. Ziv was also an Investment Director at Grove Ventures, where he managed several investments in cutting edge technologies. Ziv holds a BSc in Electrical Engineering from the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) and an MBA from Tel-Aviv University.
Q. Can you tell us about TriEye? When was the company founded? Where are you located? And what is your objective?
Ziv Livne: Founded in 2017, TriEye is a Tel Aviv-based, fabless semiconductor company developing a unique, mass-market SWIR sensing technology based on over a decade of academic research in nanophotonics. The team at TriEye is composed of experts in SWIR technology specializing in device physics, process design, and electro-optics. The company’s proprietary technology enables the world’s first, cost-effective and high-resolution CMOS-based HD SWIR sensor. We are able to reduce the cost of a SWIR sensor by up to 1000x - thereby enabling SWIR technology for a variety of transformative applications across the automotive, industrial, biometrics, security, consumer electronics and medical markets.
Q. What is SWIR Technology?
Ziv Livne: Short-Wave Infrared (SWIR) refers to a specific wavelength range from 1000nm to 1600nm. Standard CMOS-based sensors usually operate in the Visible and Near Infrared (NIR) spectrum, which is between 400nm and 1000nm. The SWIR spectrum enables several applications that are not possible with the use of Visible or NIR cameras, offering superior vision, functionality, and operability under all weather and lighting conditions. In the automotive market, it enhances human driver capabilities and assists in the detection of previously invisible hazards on the road. Such sensing capability, one that makes sense for automotive market usage, was not available at a low cost until now.
Another significant advantage of SWIR is that it enables machine vision systems to detect and identify materials remotely. Every material has a unique spectral response defined by its chemical and physical characteristics. By comparing the relative reflection of light of different materials in carefully chosen spectral bands, the differences between the spectral signatures, therefore between different materials, are revealed and easily detected. In the SWIR spectrum, most materials are recognizable in comparison to VIS or NIR cameras. SWIR cameras can sense materials and make them “visible” and actionable to human operators, video analytics, or deep learning applications.
Q. Can you tell us about the SWIR Sensing Technology that TriEye has developed? How is it different from other SWIR solutions on the market?
Ziv Livne: InGaAs-based SWIR cameras have been around for decades, serving the science, aerospace, and defense industries, but have not yet been used for mass-market applications due to their high costs, low production yield, and large form factor. Based on advanced nanophotonics research, TriEye enables the fabrication of a cost-effective, CMOS-based HD SWIR sensor at scale.
Q. What are some applications where SWIR Sensing Technology can be used?
Ziv Livne: ADAS and AV -- TriEye's HD SWIR camera enables detection at a far range and allows for superior sight even under adverse weather and lighting conditions by providing valuable imaging data. This is a major breakthrough in road safety since most severe road accidents happen under common low visibility conditions. TriEye reduces accident rates dramatically by enabling high resolution image data under all visibility conditions. Moreover, TriEye provides unique data which can recognize hazards on the road, like black-ice, oil slicks, or dark-furred animals. TriEye significantly increases the safety and reliability of existing ADAS, and will be supporting the functionality and operability of AV in the long run. TriEye’s technology saves lives by harnessing its innovative SWIR camera to reduce road accident rates and the company seeks to make its cutting-edge solution accessible to all car owners, from low-budget to premium vehicles.
DMS -- Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS) are in-vehicle safety systems that use cameras to monitor the alertness and overall vigilance of a car’s driver while on the road. These systems ensure that the driver is attentive and mitigates the risk for distraction-related collisions. Considering that 80% of road accidents and 25% of accident-related fatalities are caused by distracted driving, an efficient DMS system can save lives. The current DMS systems rely on a visual (VIS) or near infrared (NIR) camera, which fail to provide mission-critical data under common driving scenarios like sun-glare or nighttime, when most accidents occur. Other scenarios, such as when a street is covered with trees or buildings create shadow patterns, can also confuse the DMS attentiveness algorithms because the images are obscured, making them difficult to analyze. TriEye’s SWIR sensing solution for DMS monitors driver vigilance at all times, enhancing the operability and functionality of existing in-vehicle safety algorithms with robustness to ambient illumination.
Industrial -- With SWIR sensing remote material sensing capabilities, machine vision algorithms, and human operators alike can now make fast and informed decisions. Remote material sensing has tremendous potential in several real-world applications: food sorting, recycling, quality control, semiconductor inspection, leak detection, and many more. Tasks such as recognizing white paint versus glue, or oil vs water would be nearly impossible in the VIS spectrum. However, SWIR cameras can do it with the same ease as differentiating between blue and red. This sort of identification capability is crucial in a factory setting to ensure product quality and authenticity.
Biometrics -- Biometric solutions are in charge of identification and authentication of people and users to enable a wide range of services. Unfortunately, spoofing attacks can fool these systems by presenting images or videos in front of the camera, using realistic 3D masks and disguises, and wearing colored contact lenses. However, by using the remote material sensing capabilities of SWIR imaging, biometric systems can differentiate all sorts of materials present in a spoofing attack: real skin from masks or screens, and colored eye lenses from real eyes. A good biometric system not only needs to be able to detect certain materials, but also needs to be able to see in all weather and lighting conditions. SWIR cameras significantly improve visibility through sun glare, different shade patterns, fog and smoke, environments in which face detection and recognition solutions need to perform well. Thus, they enable out-of-the-box outdoor biometrics solutions.
Q. Can you tell us about the TriEye Raven SWIR Sensor? What are its key specs?
Ziv Livne: The TriEye Raven is the world’s first CMOS-based HD Short-Wave Infrared sensor. This breakthrough technology allows for cost-effective, high-resolution SWIR sensing solutions. It provides superior vision in all weather and lighting conditions with the ability to recognize materials remotely. Additionally, it offers the ability to sense and detect otherwise invisible threats or malfunctions, dramatically increasing the consistency and efficacy of existing machine vision systems.
Key specs include:
- Resolution (HxW): 1284 X 960
- Sensor Spectrum: 0.4um-1.6um
- Shutter Mode: Global/Rolling
- Maximum fps: 120 fps (full frame)
Q. What stage of product development are you in?
Ziv Livne: TriEye is already fabricating its innovative sensor together with a global CMOS foundry, using HVM tools. The company has already released the Raven 1.0 sensor with outstanding performance and its first development kit, called the Ovi DevKit, is used by its customers and design partners across Europe, the U.S, and Japan.
Q. Can you tell us more about TriEye's Ovi Devkit? What does it include? How can customers get their hands on it?
Ziv Livne: The Ovi Devkit offers several important features: seamless and easy operation of the TriEye Raven Sensor; fast ramp up to harness the SWIR spectrum; elimination of redundant work to accelerate development cycle, and reduction of the need for technical resources and development costs. Customers interested in unlocking the benefits of SWIR for their application with a Devkit can contact us via our website.
Q. Who are your customers? What Industries do they belong to?
Ziv Livne: While TriEye’s primary target market is the automotive industry, our technology is highly applicable to a wide range of other sectors. We’ve recently announced a collaboration with Trimble, a leader in machine control technology for agriculture and construction. They plan on using SWIR technology to enable operability in all weather and lighting conditions to detect potential hazards; they also intend on exploring the use of remote material sensing with TriEye’s sensor. Another deal was made with Continental Engineering, a technology leader in cutting-edge automotive and industrial solutions. This partnership will focus on the use of SWIR for Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and Driver Monitoring Systems to ensure visibility in even the harshest conditions. Additional customers with whom we announced a collaboration previously include the German sports car manufacturer Porsche and global automotive supplier DENSO. We already signed with additional strategic partners in the biometrics, industrial, home appliances, agriculture and medical market segments.
Q. What is your product and company roadmap for the next five years?
Ziv Livne: TriEye is changing the way vehicles and machines perceive the world around us by enabling a clear image where the human eye or even a standard visible camera cannot “see”. TriEye is opening the possibility of SWIR sensing to mass-market applications and we intend to address challenges and opportunities in additional fields in the near future.