Smart cameras are compact units that combine image processing and image capture functions. They’re typically considered a form of embedded vision systems and they’re often used in the life sciences sector for their flexibility in a wide range of applications.
In life sciences, smart cameras do most or all of the image processing themselves, reducing the end user’s reliance on an external PC and simplifying overall vision system design. There are many benefits to leveraging smart cameras for life science applications, though their use varies and there are several different considerations when choosing a smart camera.
How Smart Cameras are Leveraged in Life Science Applications
Smart cameras are used in many different applications in the life sciences sector. Most commonly, they’re deployed as an easy to use vision system to automate inspection processes. This could include barcode reading in the pharmaceutical industry for greater supply chain traceability, or for cloth-covered gel inspection for greater product quality, among many other things.
High resolution smart cameras are also often leveraged in microscopy because of their small size and streamlined processing architecture, though image processing in color may generate excessive heat. Smart cameras in 3D applications, including 3D height mapping, is also an emerging application.
Considerations When Choosing a Smart Camera for Life Sciences
One of the most fundamental considerations when choosing a smart camera is deciding whether a complementary metal oxide semiconductor sensor (CMOS) or charged coupled device (CCD) sensor is best for your application. In recent years, CMOS sensors have gained favor for their ability to achieve high speeds with global shutters and high resolutions nearing or surpassing those of CCD sensors. CCD sensors were once favored for their superior resolution, though the use of rolling shutters limits their speed.
Another fundamental consideration is whether you need a color or monochrome smart camera. Monochrome smart cameras are ideal when highly accurate measurements and inspections need to be made. Color smart cameras are best when feature extraction is a key component of the application, however, most color smart cameras include monochrome features for enhanced accuracy.
In life sciences applications, the type of sensor, as well as choosing color or monochrome imaging, are key considerations. But there are plenty of others, including resolution, frame rates, sensitivity, size, system costs, and many more.
Smart cameras offer many benefits in terms of ease of use, functionality, simple design, and advanced imaging capabilities. They’re widely adopted in the life sciences sector because of these benefits and can flexibly automate many different applications.
To learn more on this topic, including considerations for choosing a smart camera, visit our educational section on smart cameras in life sciences applications.