Low-power event-based face detection with asynchronous neuromorphic hardware

21 Dec 2023  ·  Caterina Caccavella, Federico Paredes-Vallés, Marco Cannici, Lyes Khacef ·

The rise of mobility, IoT and wearables has shifted processing to the edge of the sensors, driven by the need to reduce latency, communication costs and overall energy consumption. While deep learning models have achieved remarkable results in various domains, their deployment at the edge for real-time applications remains computationally expensive. Neuromorphic computing emerges as a promising paradigm shift, characterized by co-localized memory and computing as well as event-driven asynchronous sensing and processing. In this work, we demonstrate the possibility of solving the ubiquitous computer vision task of object detection at the edge with low-power requirements, using the event-based N-Caltech101 dataset. We present the first instance of an on-chip spiking neural network for event-based face detection deployed on the SynSense Speck neuromorphic chip, which comprises both an event-based sensor and a spike-based asynchronous processor implementing Integrate-and-Fire neurons. We show how to reduce precision discrepancies between off-chip clock-driven simulation used for training and on-chip event-driven inference. This involves using a multi-spike version of the Integrate-and-Fire neuron on simulation, where spikes carry values that are proportional to the extent the membrane potential exceeds the firing threshold. We propose a robust strategy to train spiking neural networks with back-propagation through time using multi-spike activation and firing rate regularization and demonstrate how to decode output spikes into bounding boxes. We show that the power consumption of the chip is directly proportional to the number of synaptic operations in the spiking neural network, and we explore the trade-off between power consumption and detection precision with different firing rate regularization, achieving an on-chip face detection mAP[0.5] of ~0.6 while consuming only ~20 mW.

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