Synaptics, Ampak Unveil the KatanaConnect — a Tiny Edge AI Module for Wireless Vision and More

The jointly-designed module includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity and Synaptics' six-core energy-efficient Katana SoC.

Synaptics has announced a partnership with Taiwanese wireless module specialist Ampak to launch the KatanaConnect, a miniaturized module offering wireless edge-artificial-intelligence (edge AI) for vision and audio on battery powered devices.

"KatanaConnect enables the fastest, most future-proof path to feature-rich, connected AI vision and audio sensing systems in compact form factors," claims Synaptics' Ananda Roy of the part's unveiling. "All that’s required for OEMs [Original Equipment Manufacturers] to quickly develop differentiated products is to add a low-power image sensor, a microphone, and custom AI model/algorithm software for the target application."

The KatanaConnect module itself is based on Synaptics' low-power edge AI Katana system-on-chip (SoC), which it launched two years ago in partnership with Eta Compute and features a heterogeneous six-core architecture with each core taking responsibility for a specific workload from neural network acceleration to audio processing. To this, the company has added its SYN430132 1×1 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.2 combination radio chip in a module measuring just 33×32mm (around 1.3×1.26").

"The integration of Katana and connectivity on a single module provides a path for our customers to easily incorporate low-power AI into their products," claims Ampak's Vincent Fan, following his company's partnership with Synaptics on the device's design. "In adopting the new Katana low-power AI solution from Synaptics, we are continuing a long and successful relationship between the two companies."

The module will include what Synaptics calls a "flexible" evaluation kit, and supports customization of its edge AI algorithms through the existing Katana AI partner ecosystem. The company is hoping the part will see use in a range of fields from assisted living and home automation to industrial safety and monitoring — and that developers will take it and extend its capabilities by using it as a development platform for "innovative sensing methods."

While Synaptics announced the KatanaConnect at the Electronica 2022 show today, it isn't yet available to buy. The company is targeting general availability in the first quarter of 2023, at an as-yet unannounced price point.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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