Embedded special

PC-based system. ‘From my point of view, it is only a matter of time until higher performance will be available in embedded boards. Tis will accelerate the transition from PC-based systems... to embedded systems.’ To some extent, the machine vision sector

already has embedded vision solutions in the form of smart cameras. ‘Inside a smart camera from Teledyne Dalsa there will be an embedded processor running algorithms with a custom processor board and customer camera interface. But it’s a product dedicated to factory automation,’ remarked Williamson. He added: ‘Some embedded processors are getting close to the performance of PCs, so you can really start to build quite powerful vision systems. ‘In the machine vision market, at the

moment people are generally taking Nvidia or Odroid processors and building lower volume embedded vision applications,’ he continued. ‘To do embedded vision properly you need to have volume. I think the majority of successful embedded vision projects will be at the volumes where it’s viable to develop a dedicated application specific processor board. We are already seeing companies like Accrosser offer template boards, which for volume can be customised.’

New business models Will embedded vision be a revolution or an evolution for the machine vision market? Patrick Schick, product manager at machine vision camera maker IDS Imaging Development Systems, asked this question in a presentation he gave at the UK Industrial Vision Association’s machine vision conference, which took place in Milton Keynes, UK, at the end of April. Schick concluded evolution. He said that embedded processing will come into


Allied Vision’s 1 product line contains an ASIC chip and targets the embedded vision market

its own for reducing, as early as possible, the data that’s transferred to a back-end system for analysis in order to speed up processing. So how will companies generate profit

from embedded vision? Williamson asked: do engineers buying embedded components expect the same support model? ‘I predict a change so the general support is provided by the community, while the integration specialist provides paid support for custom integration required for a volume solution,’ he said.

A new business model needs to evolve, one that already exists in other markets

Tere are already embedded vision

development zones out there for those building embedded platforms – FPGA and SoC company Xilinx offers its ReVision online development zone for sharing reference designs, libraries, and experience about embedded vision, and Basler also has its own version called Imaging Hub. Williamson warned that, just because there

is low-cost, off-the-shelf hardware available like the Raspberry Pi, developers should be cautious of these products. ‘Te trouble is that in three months’ time the camera will be obsolete, there being no long-term availability,’ he said. ‘Te challenge with proper embedded vision is you need longevity of supply, guaranteed availability of the sensors, and standards such that when the camera does change it’s easy to replace it – which is where the MIPI standard comes in. ‘Companies like Basler, IDS and Point Grey

are all driving the price of machine vision cameras to the bottom. But it’s not the bottom in terms of embedded vision. Te low prices are because these companies are getting involved in applications where there is embedded vision and the volumes are higher. You just have to deal with low-volume customer support in an efficient way. A new business model needs to evolve, one that already exists in other markets.’ He concluded: ‘Some people in the machine

vision industry are scared to some extent of the consumer embedded vision markets coming in and taking away what they already have. I would prefer to see it as an opportunity to address a wider, higher-volume market that previously was out of reach.’ O

24 Imaging and Machine Vision Europe • June/July 2017

Titima Ongkanton/

Allied Vision

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