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Archive for April 2nd, 2012

How To Choosing a Smart Camera

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Smart cameras are the most effective means of rapidly implementing simple machine-vision systems due to their reliability, cost effectiveness and easy to integration. As a self-contained unit, Smart cameras can be used for embedded single unit applications or networked to industrial manufacturing systems.

Below is a breakdown of the basic components of a smart camera and some important considerations when choosing a camera for your application.

Basic smart camera architecture:

What are the parts and specific considerations?

Sensor

An image sensor is an integrated circuit that converts a visual image into an electrical signal. There are several different components to consider when selecting a sensor to fit the given application. The basic parameters for smart camera sensors are type, resolution, pixel size, frame rate, and shutter types

Type: two types of sensors commonly used in machine vision: charge-coupled device (CCD) and complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS). Both sensors capture light using pixels to digitize the information.

CMOS imagers offer superior integration, power dissipation and system size at the expense of image quality (particularly in low light) and flexibility. They are the technology of choice for high-volume, space constrained applications where image quality requirements are low. This makes them a natural fit for security cameras, PC videoconferencing, wireless handheld devices, bar-code scanners, fax machines, consumer scanners, toys, biometrics and some automotive in vehicle uses.

CCDs offer superior image quality and flexibility at the expense of system size. They remain the most suitable technology for high-end imaging applications, such as digital photography, broadcast television, high-performance industrial imaging, and most scientific and medical applications. Furthermore, flexibility means users can achieve greater system differentiation with CCDs than with CMOS imagers.

Resolution: This refers to the number of pixels in the sensor region. Resolution and zoom ability grows in direct proportion to the number of pixels in the sensor. However, higher resolution images require more processing power and large data lines. So when evaluating resolution needs it is important to correctly determine the necessary level of clarity to complete the application.

Pixel size: Overall pixel size affects the sensors light sensitivity. The larger the pixel the more sensitive to light it will be. However other factors contribute to this equation, including ambient light, projected light and of course what is being imaged.

Frame rate: This refers the amount of frames that can be captures in a given second. A standard rule is that the greater the resolution the lower the frame rate, however, it is also a function of the size of the image. Smart cameras have a frame rate advantage because the onboard processor can predetermine fields of interest and only capture a small part of each image.

Shutter types: There are two ways in which the sensor is exposed to light: global and rolling. Rolling exposes each line of the sensor successively over time, which is an overall simpler method and ends up significantly less expensive. But the rolling method can distort objects moving at high speed and is therefore unsuitable for some applications. Global shutters expose the pixels all at once, taking a complete shot of the field of view. Although ideal for high speed applications, Global shutters are inherently more expensive and sometimes require larger processing power to manage the large amount of data.

Processor

The heart of any smart camera system is the digital signal processor (DSP), and the storage hardware. The DSP processes images by executing algorithmic programs designed to interpret digital image code. Storage hardware is the primary and secondary memory, such as RAM or Flash, used to run CPU programs, or to record and store images for future use. DSPs are quite complex but there are two main considerations for selection, processing capabilities and manufacturer. The higher the processing power, the more expensive the device will typically be. When deciding on manufacturers look at reviews and overall market presence because the chips durability and the reliability depend solely on the manufacture. The more established companies will be able to provide more support and guidance when using their products.

Interface

I/O capabilities connect cameras to external devices transmitting encoded images to a computer for analysis, or delivering instructions to reactive equipment. Smart camera I/O capabilities are expanding and now include Ethernet (GigE), USB 2.0, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPRS.

Ethernet: Most common I/O solution can handle large amounts of data, but can be expensive and is not compatible with all computers.

USB2.0: Simple and easy to use solution that is universally compatible and inexpensive. Although many vendors do not see USB2.0 as capable enough, many machine builders looking for inexpensive yet high performance cameras are turning to USB2.0 to solve their price performance dilemma.

Blue tooth, Wifi and GPRS: All of the non wired solutions are practical for remote location application and represent a new field of smart camera capabilities. But they are limited to low bandwidth applications and are often very expensive to produce.

Software

While some camera vendors support just one operating system, a number have chosen to support one or more operating systems in their products. The reason for such multiple operating system support is clear. Doing so allows these camera vendors to rapidly port existing PC-based software to their products. At the same time, developers of lower-cost open sourced systems can take advantage of the number of free software packages and development tools currently available.

In this manner, companies can offer their cameras with a range of application software while reducing the developer’s time to market. Third-party software developers can also add their own functionality to the cameras, offering unique products that serve specific markets.

Of course, with added programming complexity comes the need to offer the integrator a set of easy-to-configure machine-vision tools that require little or no programming expertise.

XIMEA was created by the group of industry leading Imaging and Vision veterans originating from DELARO and SOFTHARD companies. Accumulated knowledge and experiences of almost 20 years in business, radically new and fresh approaches where the customers and clients satisfaction is the paramount, are the essential building stones of our mission. They are inviting you to see the short clip introducing XIMEA team and their core philosophy.

Reasons to Hire Managed IT Services

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Without a maximized workflow and optimally functioning technology, a company could lose valuable information through problems that might arise. No matter what size company you’re dealing with, make sure you consider getting a service that can assist you with the heavy lifting. Unless you’re going to start an in-house IT department, you’ll have to consider enhancing your business with an outsourced tech team. There are three major reasons why choosing an outside IT company is a great option.

Risk Management – When you hire a tech company to handle computer support services, you can feel confident in your office technology and focus on business operations. Instead of hiring an in-house team that would take up space and resources in your place of business, you will instead reduce the risks involved with hiring, insurance and much more by simply getting an IT service that is separate from your business location.

Infrastructure Control – If you’re dealing with computer networking, technology, websites and much more, you’ll need to have complete control over updating and major processes that make them work. This is especially true if you’re running a shopping cart software on your site. Without control, you won’t be moving forward with infrastructure. For instance, if the network goes down at any given moment, you’ll end up having peace of mind because you can get your site back in working order immediately, rather than having to wait for your tech team to arrive at the office.

Less Work, More Efficiency – The main reason why you will need a service of this type is because it will mean less work in the long term. Your tasks will not be related to technology, and rather your business can move forward with relative ease. In-house staff often times have more work to do than just focus on the managing of technological advances, which can sometimes bottleneck certain aspects of infrastructure. By removing that element, and getting a service, you will ensure that business is moving forward at all hours of the day and even night if need be.

The aforementioned reasons are just a few examples to consider when deciding whether or not to hire an IT company for computer support services. Services are varied and there are a lot more arguments both for and against hiring outsourced IT providers. The above are just a few reasons that should help keep you motivated in hiring a team that is already working in technology, rather than trying to build a “dream team” for yourself. You could spend month after month trying to figure out who to choose to come on board and help with your tech needs, or you can let the experts handle your needs with relative ease. By hiring an outside firm, you will also be saving a tremendous amount of money that would otherwise be spent on an in-house IT department. The long term savings will trump the costs that you would have to invest in getting and forming a proper team to manage all tech support. Outside firms have experience and staff to handle any and all needs that arise, so your business is covered.

Keytech has been providing UK businesses with enterprise-class, managed services and technology solutions for over 25 years, and IT support services for all sizes of organisation for over 20 years. As a firm, Keytech specialise in supporting the information technology requirements of modern businesses, therefore allowing our clients to concentrate on what they do best, running their business. By removing the burden of mundane, day to day IT operations, we ensure our clients are working efficiently with the IT resources available.