What is Embedded Vision?
Embedded Vision is essentially a term meaning that the image processing happens on-board a device.
It can be presented in a variety of formats and technologies but the idea is to embed a solution so that it is running as efficiently as possible, in a compact format, typically on processors based on ARM or x86 architecture. The processing ‘result’ is often all that the system will output so minimising data bandwidth with the real-world and presenting only the core information required by the system.
In the traditional machine vision industry it has historically referred to vision systems such as Smart Cameras or Fanless PC’s. These devices typically are installed with a version of Windows, sometimes embedded version, or a Linux based OS.
At the other end of the spectrum and more commonly associated with very large volume computer vision applications (out-of-factory) are board level component designs that create compact bespoke and dedicated vision solutions.
Architecture of an embedded vision solution
Regardless of where you sit on the path, every embedded vison solution comprises of a sensor to grab the image, an interface to pass the image data to a processor, a processor with associated memory management, the software algorithms to analyse the image data and the peripheral I/O control electronics to interface to the outside world.
How large or small or how truly embedded these components are will vary depending on your requirements. The lower level the design is, the more complex it is likely to be which results in a longer time-to-market and greater investment up front to realise the final solution. This route is normally taken by companies that are looking to create a product that will be manufactured in very large volume for low unit costs.
Examples of this are in transport, logistics, medical and other non-manufacturing vision tasks, such as automated vehicle guidance, drones and robots.
At the other end of the spectrum, a company looking to create a compact rugged vision solution that has flexibility in the design but still demands some benefits of an embedded platform (say environmental constraints) would typically opt for an Embedded Fanless PC. These platforms also tend to run Windows or Linux, for which there are off-the-shelf image processing software tools, resulting in shorter time-to-market.
Example of this includes manufacturing process control for quality and inspection purposes ie. automotive, food and beverage, electronics.
What are the benefits of Embedded Vision?
- Lean system design
- Light weight
- Cost-effective, because there is no unnecessary hardware
- Lower manufacturing costs
- Lower energy consumption
- Small footprint