Understanding embedded vision
Traditionally, vision systems have relied on a PC. Equipped with a frame grabber or interface card to import camera images, they use software to analyze these images and relay the information to another part of the system.
Although they offer good performance, PC-based vision systems can be bulky and complex. Plus, integrating them into existing systems or manufacturing processes often proves tricky given the number of interfaces involved.
In contrast, embedded vision systems comprise an independent computer system that, by virtue of its compact dimensions, can be integrated directly into a larger mechanical or electrical system. With everything on board, a PC is not required. As a rule, embedded vision systems are also easier to use and integrate than their computer-based counterparts. Lower purchase costs, fewer moving parts and minimal maintenance also make them attractive options.
But until recently, embedded systems have not been able to match the performance provided by PC-based systems. Consequently, the range of applications they could be used for has been restricted to those that do not require fast high-quality image processing. However, a new generation of embedded vision technology designed to meet a wide range of application requirements is changing this. This development has been made possible by the emergence of high-performance, low-cost, energy-efficient processors.
Embedded vision systems have been most commonly found in mobile devices. But thanks to the new technology, the possible uses for embedded vision are almost infinite. In the short to mid term, embedded vision technology will be found almost everywhere – from ubiquitous everyday devices to heavily automated smart factories.
Embedded vision – endless applications
Combining small dimensions with powerful processing, embedded vision systems are suited to an extremely diverse range of industrial applications. These include everything from self-driving vehicles and driver assistance systems through drones, retail, security, biometrics, medical imaging, and augmented reality to robots and networked objects. The list is endless. Nevertheless, perhaps one of the most interesting areas of application is factory automation. Referred to as machine vision in this context, here embedded vision offers huge potential as a driver to the smart factory revolution. Machine vision applications include:
- car and vehicle component manufacturing
- chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing and processing
- packaging, including packaging and processing solutions
- industrial robotics
- electronics manufacturing and assembly
Machine vision – setting the new industry standard
Traditionally, a machine vision setup comprises a camera, a PC, and a cable linking the camera to the PC. It uses plug-and-play components via a standard interface and standard protocols. Its reliance on standard operating systems and interface protocols means software can easily be created using commercial image processing libraries.
An embedded machine vision system, by contrast, comprises a camera without a housing (known as a board-level camera) connected to a processing board (also known as an embedded board) via an inexpensive connector. These components are combined into one device. Dispensing with the need for a PC altogether, images relayed from the camera are processed on the system’s processing board.
Why Allied Vision?
Because Allied Vision is a leading manufacturer of high-quality cameras for machine vision applications with 25 years of experience. Allied Vision cameras are built specifically to meet the requirements of demanding industrial environments and will withstand vibrations, shock, heat, and constant use. Thanks to their high standard of quality, they are regularly found in the automobile and pharmacy industries as part of production-line assembly and quality control systems as well as in scientific and medical devices.
Allied Vision possesses a long and distinguished track record in custom camera designs and modular platforms. And, for example, introduced board-level cameras to the machine vision market many years ago. Allied Vision’s embedded cameras represent a natural development of this and have been purposely designed to meet the needs of embedded vision system designers while delivering the high quality and performance that is standard in the machine vision industry.