SMART CAMERA 

 

   
 

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The Project is focused on developing and commercializing a novel smart camera. The smart camera is a device that combines an image sensor with an image processing system (including a high-performance DSP) and an interface for controlling peripherals. Typical fields of application of smart cameras are optical diagnostics, adaptive optics, medical equipment, high-precision and high-speed tracking systems, etc 

  see Technical Specifications

             
     

 OBJECTIVES

 
         
     

The main objective of this project is manufacturing and commercializing a novel high-performance smart camera that can be used in optical diagnostics, adaptive optics, medical equipment, high-precision and high-speed tracking systems.

At present time, conventional image processing systems usually include analog or digital cameras connected to PCs or industrial computers by means of special interface boards. Such systems allow solving a wide range of optical diagnostics and adaptive optics problems. Examples of such systems are Multispot-250 aberroscope being a part of laser refractive surgery complex Microscan (PIC, Physics Instrumentation Center RAS), adaptive multispectral fundus-camera (ILIT RAS, Institute of Laser and Information Technology RAS), and many others.

In adaptive optics systems, systems of laser radiation diagnostics, optical inspection and medical systems, it is impossible to achieve ultrahigh performance remaining with the "PC+camera" platform. A performance of the order of 30 fps can be obtained for sure, but operating frequencies exceeding 60 Hz cause considerable difficulties. For instance, when developing an adaptive system with a measurement rate of 77 Hz, the R&D team of Visionica Ltd had to optimize the software for the specific configuration of a PC and processor. In other words, such systems are not completely open-ended and device-independent.

The accomplished studies resulted in developing unique software that permits solving a number of actual problems of optical diagnostics, adaptive optics, and medical diagnostics. We have designed algorithms of real-time data analysis, which that need no massive data storage in computer memory. However, it is not possible to fully utilize the potential of these developments because of technical limitations introduced by the "PC+camera" platform. For example, the system has 1,5-2 frame latency caused by buffering that takes place in the PC and camera interface. This effect reduces the bandwidth of the adaptive system with a measurement rate of 77 Hz to only 8-10 Hz. Similar problems occur in tracking systems with video registration, for example, in pupil tracking systems utilized in ophthalmic and refractive surgery instruments. Such pupil tracking systems should have a 50-60 Hz bandwidth (200-300 Hz measurement rate), while the "PC+camera" platform allows you to get only 10 Hz. As noted above, principal difficulties occur during the process of data transfer from the camera to the PC and from the PC memory to the processor. Our estimations have shown that 70 % of time expenditures of algorithms used in the above-mentioned problems concern data transfer between the PC memory and the processor. We should stress that even the use of the most high-performance computer platforms doesn't eliminate the problem of latency.

There are two methods of solving the above problems: the use of special image-processing DSP-based boards and the development of smart cameras. In smart cameras, data can directly flow from the image sensor to the allocated memory of the DSP. Thus, no buffering delays occur in this case. In our opinion, such a solution is optimal for constructing high-performance optical diagnostics and operation systems.

DSPs with a structure and efficiency adequate to the applications described above have already entered the market. There are linear CMOS image sensors with various resolutions and operating speeds, which are able to cover the whole spread of optical diagnostics and high-speed tracking problems. The integration of such a DSP with a CMOS sensor in such a way that to make the sensor board changeable (in order to vary resolutions and operating speeds) will provide a universal product that will be interesting for a wide range of corporate users.

 
       
     

Technical Specifications

 
         
     

The smart camera to be created in the framework of the Project will have the following characteristics:

  Max. image sensor resolution: >1200x1000 pixels
  Frame rate: >16 fps
  Digitization, at least: 8 bit
  Processor clock speed: 500 MHz
  Processor width: 64 bits
  Core memory: 3 MB
  Processing power: 12 GFLOPS
  Interface transfer rate to host computer: > 400 Mb/sec
  Peripheral interface: serial
  Number of peripherals: 32
  Peripherals interface transfer rate: > 1 Mb/sec
  Size: <60x60x160 mm
  Weight: <600 g
  Power consumption: < 12 W
  Failure time: > 3000 hours
  Design: metal case


The software shall provide:

  Sensor operation
  Data transfer from the sensor to the DSP memory
  Data processing according to uploaded algorithms
  Processed data transfer to the host computer
  Generation of operating signals for peripherals
  Transfer of commands and signals to peripherals
  Diagnostics and control of operability


According to the above specification, the proposed smart camera shall provide no less than 200% advantage in efficiency as compared with the most similar prototype, DVT Legend 554 (
DVT Corporation, USA).

 
         
     

The technological features of the smart camera are patented in Russian Federation (utility patent "Smart Camera", inventor: A.V. Larichev, patentee: Visionica Ltd.)

 
   
   

The project has been started owing to financial support from the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises (FASIE).