Smart Cameras Using Embedded FPGA Programming
The future belongs to “embedded Vision” — a networked, decentralized image processing of hard- and software in one housing. With VisualApplets Embedder, this is already achievable today. The solution for real-time image processing in FPGA devices such as industrial cameras is easy to integrate and operate. End users and image processing hardware manufacturers program on software applets tailored to their applications and industries with Embedder directly on the device’s FPGA in almost no time.
To accomplish this, they use the VisualApplets graphical development environment as the basis for Embedder, without using a labor-intensive hardware description language. In 2006, it was awarded the VISION Innovation Prize. With VisualApplets, they develop an unlimited number of individual and industry-specific image processing applications as applet designs.
On the way to an application camera (Photograph: Baumer GmbH)
To create an applet design, they flexibly combine by drag-and-drop operators which represent over 200 image processing functions to create a data flow model. The model is synthesized into a program code (bitstream) from which the FPGA is configured. VisualApplets supports users with unique tools for automatic error recognition, notification, and correction, as well as an intuitive, image-based high-level simulation.
VisualApplets makes it possible to use standard designs, to create proprietary image processing designs as data flow models or to individualize for customer groups.
On the hardware side, Embedder makes it possible to quickly adapt the integration design to new devices after the initial implementation, and to construct different product lines using image processing designs. In so doing, Embedder makes FPGA devices intelligent and reduces their time to market considerably. This innovative “embedded vision” solution has arrived on the market and has been honored numerous times as an integral component of Baumer’s LX VisualApplets camera series.
Numerous honors for Embedder in Baumer’s LX VisualApplets cameras
Development of complex applications directly on the device
Existing device hardware can easily be equipped with embedded VisualApplets technology so that a large part of the image pre-processing can be calculated on the device’s FPGA, conserving resources. Alongside image processing solutions, it is also possible to program and process data signals using VisualApplets. Signal in- and outputs as well as connections to external digital peripherals, such as PLC, lighting, rotary encoders and other control devices, are directly programmable in the device using VisualApplets.
VisualApplets Embedder integrates into FPGA devices such as cameras
VisualApplets verifies Embedder’s implementation process. Has the installation effort been accomplished for one hardware platform, it is possible with the development environment to create every type of image processing design as often as desired. Designs can then be very easily adapted for new device platforms or ported onto compliant devices using VisualApplets’ user interface. FPGA device manufacturers can allow their customers to program applications on the devices by themselves.
During installation, the new Embedder platform is integrated into a pre-installed version of VisualApplets. Any number of Embedder platforms can thus be added to VisualApplets. Read more about Embedder installation in our white paper.
Raise the added value of FPGA devices in image processing with Embedder
How it can work to increase the throughput by VisualApplets Embedder, to simplify the system setup and to reduce system costs, this is shown in the video by camera manufacturer Baumer, which uses the solution in its LX VisualApplets cameras with integrated image pre-processing.
Embedder opens up access to new markets and business possibilities for manufacturers of cameras and image processing devices in no time. Users get “smart” devices that afford them the highest possible flexibility and investment security.
For camera manufacturers
- With smart cameras you have the possibility to develop new customer segments, whose requirements exceed off-the-shelf and existing OEM solutions considerably
- Your customers get offered the added value to program cameras within a pre-determined frame by themselves without opening a support trap
- With VisualApplets your own internal development can be accelerated to offer camera series with enhanced additional functionalities
- You can use VisualApplets for the acceleration of your own internal development to offer customers a camera with application specific additional functionalities
- Once developed applications can be ported to different camera series
- You adapt your own image processing designs fast and flexible to your respective market requirements
- Enhancements of the camera functionality can be executed by yourself with low effort and without hardware programming knowledge
- The quantity of image data to be transferred and analyzed can be reduced by pre-processing to relieve the PC at final analysis
- Due to the data reduction the robustness of the image analysis and the inspection speed increase considerably
- By the lesser data quantity you can also use cost-saving interfaces alternatively such as Gigabit Ethernet
- The intellectual property can be secured by a sophisticated encryption system. The FPGA is protected against the read-out of the content and a data hacking with reverse engineering gets almost impossible.