Chinese tech giant Lenovo to put Movidius AI in future VR products

7 Jun 2016

The Lenovo deal is the latest in a string of high profile tech deals for the Dublin based company Movidius

Irish tech company Movidius has scooped its second major deal with a Chinese tech giant in just a matter of months; this time with Lenovo, which will put Movidius’ AI chips in a variety of VR-centric products.

Earlier this year, Movidius scooped a major deal with Google to put its Myriad 2 chip in future Google smartphone and VR products.

Shortly after this, Movidius was revealed as the brains behind Chinese drone maker DJI’s Phantom 4 drone. This is an autonomous drone that features a visual guidance feature that sticks to and follows a subject and stays in a fixed position without the need for a GPS signal. The addition of the Movidius chip technology and algorithms enables spatial computing and 3D-depth sensing.

‘We can build the products we want, without compromising on cost, size, performance or battery life’

In this latest deal, Lenovo – which is one of China’s leading consumer electronics players and which famously acquired IBM’s PC division – will be able to source the advanced Myriad 2 Vision Processing Unit (VPU) and custom computer vision algorithms for various virtual reality (VR) projects.

Myriad 2 is an ultra-low power chip designed specifically for handling challenging vision-based tasks, such as head tracking, gesture recognition, and blending multiple video streams into interactive VR video. Thanks to the small size and thermal footprint of Myriad 2, it is able to power extremely compact handheld and head-worn devices.

“Our technology was built to maximise machine-vision performance in a sub-1 Watt power budget,” said Movidius CEO Remi El-Ouazzane.

“In selecting Myriad 2 for their VR products, Lenovo is building devices designed from the ground up for VR. We’re very much looking forward to these no-compromise devices that will push VR adoption into the mainstream.”

All-seeing, all-thinking computing

The Myriad 2 VPU features a flexible configuration of 12 high-performance programmable vector cores, allowing Lenovo to implement custom algorithms to meet the needs of a wide range of products. With a built-in image signal processor (ISP) and hardware accelerators, the Myriad 2 offloads all vision-related tasks from a device’s CPU and GPU, drastically improving performance while only consuming a single Watt of additional power.

“Lenovo has a long tradition of bringing innovative products to the market,” explained Lenovo’s Shanghai Research and Technology group manager, Li Xiang.

“Myriad 2 is unique in its ability to deliver the kind of vision compute performance we need for our next generation VR products.

“We can build the products we want, without compromising on cost, size, performance or battery life.”

The first Lenovo products featuring Myriad 2 are expected in the second half of 2016. More details on the products are expected to be revealed at Lenovo’s Tech World event taking place on 9 June in San Francisco.

Last year, Movidius announced it had raised $40m in funding in a round led by Summit Bridge Capital, the China-Ireland growth technology fund co-managed by Atlantic Bridge and WestSummit Capital, a China-based, global growth-stage technology investment firm.

Movidius, which was founded 10 years ago by David Moloney and Sean Mitchell, now has offices in Silicon Valley, Ireland, Romania and China.

Lenovo image by bfishadow via Flickr/Creative Commons

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years