Choosing an embedded vision solution

Track inspection tasks for embedded systems
(Courtesy Stemmer Imaging)

Track inspection tasks for embedded systems(Courtesy Stemmer Imaging)

Determining what type of embedded vision system is right for a given application depends on the application itself. What needs to be accomplished and how will the resultant data be used? Other factors include the number of sensors needed, the operating environment including the amount of space available, the level of support available and, of course the cost. One of the most important considerations is software. The capabilities of the software must match the application, programming and runtime needs.

Board level applications

Board level embedded vision systems deployed to date have generally been developed by vision specialists. Once this initial development has been completed, the economies of scale offered by the low cost components can be realised. There is much potential for board level systems, ranging from use in hand-held devices to being an integral part of the smart factory approach. It will be interesting to see whether system development will remain in the domain of the specialist or whether more easily set-up systems (as with smart cameras) will become common-place.

Smart cameras and vision sensors

3D Vision sensor checking biscuit box contents
(Courtesy Sick)

3D Vision sensor checking biscuit box contents (Courtesy Sick)

Smart cameras can be used in all of the traditional industrial vision applications such as high volume component inspection, robot guidance, 1D and 2D (DataMatrix) code reading and verification, optical character recognition etc. Small form factors and highend embedded software offer great flexibility to the machine builder or systems integrator who want to use vision as an integral part of a process or machine. Smart cameras are single point inspection systems and are the ideal choice where multiple independent points of inspection are needed. Each one can be set up independently to perform a specific task and modified if needed without affecting the other inspections. For less demanding single point inspections, the low cost of ownership of smart vision sensors allows them to be used at be used at more points of inspection. This gives better failure analysis data and allows corrective action to be taken more quickly and easily. 3D smart cameras provide the ability to process whole parts, making factory automation easier and less expensive by eliminating the multiple components and software engineering required for automated part scanning and detection. With discrete parts segmented into 3D cloud datasets, it is possible to perform volumetric measurements such as volume, centroid, orientation, etc. to provide information on dimensions, location, and orientation.

Multi-point vision systems

Multi-point inspection systems are best suited to applications where multiple cameras are required to carry out the same inspection. Comprehensive embedded software provides processing and measurement capabilities equivalent to smart camera systems. In addition, cameras with different sensor sizes and resolutions can be mixed and matched according to the particular inspection point.


UKIVA members can offer further advice Embedded Vision Technology.