‘Open Hardware Concept’

created on 05.02.2012

Open camera access - use your own expertise

The new Open Hardware Concept by Visiosens and FRAMOS opens up the potential for end user product innovation. The platform allows you to implement algorithms directly on the camera, offering you unconstrained use of your personal expertise, so that you can add your own value to the manufacturer’s foundation of quality and experience.

Through on-board image processing, the requirements for cameras are constantly increasing. Previous generations of cameras, which were primarily geared for standardisation, are reaching the limits of their potential. In contrast, the new Open Hardware Concept by Visiosens and FRAMOS is engineered for maximum individualisation, enabling users to take better and more flexible advantage of the available resources. For the user, the key advantages lie in image enhancement (e.g. colour correction, noise reduction, HDR), pre-processing (e.g. binarisation, debayering), data reduction (e.g. compression, image details) and recognition tasks (e.g. object recognition, pattern recognition). Together with easier integration, the new concept puts the emphasis fully on open programming and on the use of existing and third-party intellectual property.

Figure 1: VF Camera Series

“Extending our proven VF range with the Open Hardware Concept offers optimised application quality for exactly these requirements. The direct availability of customer expertise in the camera drives efficiency,” says Lutz Brekerbohm, Visiosens MD.

The basis for the system is a Xilinx Spartan 6 (LX45T) FPGA with a connected 128MB DDR2 memory. Both are delivered in blank condition. They can be used according to individual customer requirements and programmed via JTAG or SDK (camera interface). Unlimited development of the FPGA design can be carried out in the tried and tested development environment made available by the FPGA manufacturer Xilinx.

Abbildung 2: Open Hardware Concept

“This is where the key improvement lies,” says Brekerbohm. “While the processing board is fully available to the user, the basic functions expected of a camera, such as sensor parameterisation and interfacing, remain unaffected. There is no longer any need for adjustments or for compromise with manufacturer settings.”

Abbildung 3: Processing board

Abbildung 4: VF camera with and without processing board

The design principle is incredibly simple: a third board holding the freely programmable FGPA can be placed between the sensor (frontend) and the interface (backend). Standardised IP cores connecting the frontend and backend allow the user to concentrate on integrating his algorithms. Even a subsequent change of interface or image sensor requires no algorithm adjustment. In addition, customised image sensors and interfaces can be integrated upon request. “The fact that the system is fully expandable is also a key contributor to improving individuality and productivity,” says Brekerbohm.

An optional adapter is available for designs that require the use of a Xilinx development board. Standardised interfaces make it possible to connect all board variants of the VF platform with the Xilinx development board.

The Open Hardware Concept enables customers to take a modular approach to developing their products. Starting with one of the proven VF cameras, they can expand its capacities and features in stages by adding processing boards. This also  ensures that the same software can be used for all applications within a company, for on-going consistency, prevention of system changes and faults.

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