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What is Embedded Vision?
An Exciting New Technology With The Potential To Transform Entire Industries
Embedded vision systems incorporate image capture and image processing, from a hardware and software perspective, into the same device.
The distinction between embedded vision systems and machine vision systems is not always clear. Essentially, embedded vision systems combine both image capture and image processing capabilities into one device. Traditional machine vision systems, on the other hand, often require a large camera and lens for image capture, along with a standardized interface and cable that transmits raw image data to a separate industrial PC.
In the early days of machine vision, cameras and PCs were large and expensive, restricting them to tightly controlled industrial applications. Over time, processing and image components shrank dramatically, enabling entirely new vision system constructions. Today, vision systems can be made small enough to be embedded in other devices, such as a smartphone, radically changing the functionality of that device.
Embedded vision is still in its infancy, but it has the potential to transform entire industries. This exciting new technology opens up completely new imaging capabilities with endless commercial opportunities.
Types of Embedded Vision Systems
While all embedded vision systems combine image capture and processing into one device, these systems still come in many different forms.
The most simplistic embedded vision systems contain a high number of standard components, including a single-board computer and USB board-level camera, allowing for low development and integration costs, but high initial unit costs.
On the other end of the spectrum, embedded vision systems can be customized for application-specific functions with few standard components. This often requires an individual processing unit and a separate camera module, which may sometimes lower the initial unit costs but significantly raises development and integration costs.
A multitude of different combinations exist between the two extremes of standard and fully custom embedded vision systems. This technology can use a variety of vision components to fit the needs of nearly any application.
The Benefits of Embedded Vision Systems
One of the biggest benefits of embedded vision systems is that they’re far cheaper than traditional machine vision systems. Even high-end, fully customized embedded vision systems can be cheaper than machine vision systems. This is primarily due to lower hardware requirements in an embedded vision system. Even though integration costs are typically higher, embedded systems are still a cost-effective option for many applications.
In addition to lower costs, embedded systems are lightweight, consume lower amounts of energy and feature lean designs. This is part of what makes embedded vision perfect for tight spaces and for integration with existing systems. Embedded components typically have no negative impact on an existing system while simultaneously opening up opportunities for new functionality, which is where the true benefit of embedded vision lies.
Embedded vision systems perform imaging tasks that traditional machine vision systems, by design, simply cannot. The ability to capture and process images within a single system enables varying degrees of autonomy by enabling mechanical systems to react to the world around them. Going even further than being reactive, embedded vision systems facilitate image recognition and deep learning capabilities so that mechanical systems can be proactive in making decisions based on the environment around them.
While artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles are some of the more radical applications of embedded vision, it’s still a transformative technology in many different industries. Embedded vision systems are continually expanding into new territories following the rapid pace of innovation and standardization.
Embedded Vision Applications
Embedded vision is an exciting new technology with the potential to expand imaging capabilities in a wide range of industries and applications. As costs continue to fall and processing power increases, embedded vision technology will only grow more in demand and capabilities.
Some of the most common industries leveraging embedded vision technology include:
Embedded vision systems can penetrate markets that traditional machine vision systems never could, and in the process, create entirely new imaging possibilities in a wide range of industries.
Embedded systems provide significant benefits over machine vision systems, in many cases. They’re typically cheaper, consume less power and feature far leaner designs. Regardless of whether the embedded system is a fully customized solution or features a high number of standard components, the right embedded vision technology can meet application demands in a way that machine vision systems cannot.
In many instances, embedded vision is still only just beginning to receive widespread commercial adoption, but that doesn’t change the fact that this cutting-edge technology has the potential to transform entire industries.
To learn more about the current and future applications of embedded vision, browse our embedded vision applications and industries section.
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This content is part of the embedded vision section of Vision Online. To learn more about Embedded Vision, click here.