Smart cameras are a form of embedded vision system, but the distinction between what’s a smart camera and what’s simply a different form of embedded vision can sometimes be unclear. At the most general level, smart cameras come with robust processing ability and are typically intended for industrial or scientific applications. Embedded vision systems, on the other hand, are intended to be designed into other products and they may or may not include processing capabilities.
Smart cameras and embedded vision systems are generally used in different applications, feature slightly different designs, and are evolving in different ways.
Design Differences Between Smart Cameras and Other Embedded Vision Systems
Smart cameras typically come in two main forms. In one form, they’re available in a plug and play format. While there is some set up and software tweaking involved, this form of smart camera requires little integration efforts. Smart cameras may also be available without pre-programmed software, allowing end users to leverage linux, unix, OpenCV or any other programming language to define their own imaging parameters. The plug and play version offers lower cost imaging while the customizable version allows for greater flexibility.
Embedded vision systems may vary greatly in their design, though they differ from smart cameras. Some embedded systems are enclosed, but the large majority do not have enclosures and are typically confined to using the MIPI or USB3 interface. Embedded vision may come with a board or lens mount or combination of imaging components, but often they lack some of the more advanced capabilities of industrial and scientific cameras.
The Evolution of Smart Cameras
Embedded vision systems are intended to keep costs as low as possible for high volume applications. Smart cameras are more focused on delivering high-quality imaging, even in unique and low volume applications, for great return on investment (ROI).
In this way, smart cameras, as they evolve, are greatly improving their processing capabilities. Now, they’re often IP67 rated for wash down environments so they can be used in a wider range of industrial settings. Smart cameras are becoming smaller, adding 3D imaging capabilities as well as the power of convolutional neural networks (CNN) and artificial intelligence (AI). Some smart cameras are even modular now, allowing end users to define the resolution, processing power, and lighting requirements to receive a smart camera uniquely matched for their application.
While smart cameras are a form of embedded vision, they differ quite a bit from other types of embedded vision systems. In their design, function, and evolution, smart cameras are unique for embedded systems in their ability to deliver high quality imaging and processing in demanding applications.
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