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HomeSmart CamerasWhat is a smart camera? - What are the benefits of Smart...

What is a smart camera? – What are the benefits of Smart Cameras?

In the machine vision sector, a smart camera typically combines lighting, image sensors, software, and I/O to address industrial inspection and process control applications. Like a few terms within the market that can sometimes lead to confusion (“Embedded vision” comes to mind). The definition of a smart camera might mean slightly different things to different people. This is especially true right now as new types of cameras have emerged late that offer capabilities and features like the “traditional” smart camera. But that comes in different packages, specifications, and form factors.   

For example, most smart cameras in the past came equipped with image sensors ranging in the VGA to 2 MPixel range, for the most part. Today, numerous smart cameras are on the market with image sensors well past this benchmark and into the 5, 12, and even 20 MPixel range. These cameras with large image sensors serve the new and expanding needs of customers deploying machine vision systems. 

smart camera tracks the happenings in the home. We can use it for the Wi-Fi network to transmit the video to the smartphone or cloud storage for the archive. You also can connect it to a free app that you download on the mobile. This is where you will be able to review the footage as well as change the settings.  

Smart camera installation process at a glance!

Installation is a breeze. Usually, these devices are plug-and-play, which means that you can use them right after you’ve downloaded the app. You have to just follow the instructions mentioned by the provider. Of course, it’s crucial to place the smart cameras at strategic points in your home. This way, you will ensure that there are not any blind spots that robbers can take advantage of.

What is going on within a smart camera?

A  smart camera is (sensor)  or intelligent camera (sensor)  or  (smart) vision sensor. It is also an intelligent vision sensor or a smart optical sensor or is a  machine vision system that can extract application-specific information from the captured images in addition to image capture circuitry. This intelligent and automated system includes generating event descriptions or making decisions. 

A smart camera is a self-contained and standalone vision system with a built-in image sensor in your housing of an industrial video camera. So the vision system and the image sensor can integrate into one single piece of hardware known as an intelligent image sensor or smart image sensor. It actually includes all relevant communication interfaces, such as Ethernet, and industry-proof 24V I/O lines for connection to a  PLC. Also then for actuators, relays, or pneumatic valves.   

What are smart cameras used for?   

Smart cameras combine a camera with image processing and machine vision programs all in one package. They are commonly used in life science applications with space constraints or no room to mount a separate controller, such as high-end digital microscopes for off-line cell inspection, bar code reading for packaging, and pharmacological products. 

Vision sensors are considered to be lower-end smart cameras, but they have separate controllers. They can handle many of the same applications and perform similar simple tasks and offer many advantages. Over a full-blown smart camera when the space exists for a separate controller. 

Smart camera controllers are computers or microprocessors that process images instead of transferring them to a pc or separate processor. They are also called as intelligent cameras or embedded vision processors and are handy for customers who want the controller in one package. Over the last decade, the smart camera industry has evolved to have optics, lighting, a camera in the front end, and processor, communications, and digital I/O all in one compact unit. 

The uses of a smart camera continued…

Smart cameras have been used for industrial applications worldwide for at least two and a half decades. Still, advances in processor technologies have made the devices much more accessible and popular within the past seven years, especially in machine vision and surveillance. But, when the term smart camera is mentioned, many ideas still come to mind because there is no widespread agreement upon the definition of what a smart camera technically is. It is generally agreed upon that the basics of a smart camera include the image sensor and some processing chip: a CPU, DSP, FPGA, or another type of processing device.

They help minimize the complexity of the machine vision system, reducing the need for a separate pc or multiple illumination sources. Using low-cost smart cameras can also offer a price advantage in various camera systems, effectively spreading the cost of the pc across various units. 

Smart cameras are self-contained but also used in multiple camera applications with separate controllers that allow them to perform particular tasks or work together. The controller acts as a single central brain controlling separate smart cameras. Vial inspections are one such application. One camera on top looks at the vial’s cap, and other cameras at different angles look at the sides of the vial. These systems are to look for presence/absence, inspect the appearance to make sure there are no contaminants, determine colour, intensity, perform width measurements or count objects or edges. Perform identifications reading 1D or 2D bar codes or using OCR tools. 

Smart cameras may not offer space advantages in clinical or diagnostic instruments or analytical chemistry applications with a PC dedicated to a user interface.

But they offer the benefit of offloading some of the processing or validation functions off of the customer’s software if reducing software complexity and separating parts is desired. Depending on what a user needs to do and the number of cameras needed, smart vs dumb camera and pc may be more or less advantageous. 

Another reason life science customers use smart cameras is because they already have them on hand. Using smart cameras already stocked for bar code reading and motion control, sometimes called imagers, on other applications may make sense. 

Unlike most cameras, the primary output of this smart camera is not actually an image but a decision or information.

The image processing or machine vision algorithm happened directly on the smart camera. The image does not have to pass onto a PC or any other device. You might be wondering what happened? Instead, the result of the processing can pass directly to an operator or another device in the system. For example, may select a smart camera in an in-line inspection system for a manufacturing line. 

The output of the smart camera could be a pass/fail report over a network to a database, a digital signal triggering a sorting system, or a serial command to a programmable logic controller (PLC).

A smart camera is a decision-maker. Still, suppose you conduct an internet search for a smart camera. In that case, you will receive many results with very different features and appearance options. Let’s review some essential properties of smart cameras and how they have progressed: 

What are the benefits of smart cameras? Have a quick look!

samrt cameras   

There are so many benefits of smart cameras. The deployment of smart cameras in industrial settings has gained popularity over the past few years. These cameras have many advantages over host-based systems in suitable applications and open up new possibilities for inspection, measurement, and other vision applications. 

Have you ever thought about the reason for smart cameras being used in industrial settings?

Here is the answer: typical industrial vision cameras include mainly an image sensor, speaking strictly of internal imaging capabilities. Therefore, any image processing, interpreting, and decision-making must take place externally on a PC or not take place at all.   

Moreover, smart cameras incorporate an image sensor and CPU capabilities, which have consequences for specific applications. A smart camera captures and then processes images without the requirement for an external PC.   

Space-saving feature 

Using numerous cameras interfaced with a PC system usually needs a lot of space. Industrial settings are generally crowded or at least require the efficient use of floor space. When it comes to smart cameras, they get rid of the requirement for all these connections and multiple camera systems. They only need much less space and streamline machine vision systems.   

Smart cameras allow localized pass or fail decision making, I/O part rejection, and networked management capabilities. This directs to smaller system footprints and further streamlines and simplifies vision systems.   

Most smart cameras enable system integrators and manufacturers great customization for image enhancement, feature location, object measurement, and many more. They give high performance in a compact package. They are versatile enough to fit a broad range of industrial imaging needs.   

Smart camera deployment in industrial settings has increased over the past several years. Moreover, this technology is now making its way into the healthcare and entertainment industries. They have been primarily used in the industrial sector and enjoy increasing adoption rates.   

While not a fit for every application, smart cameras can provide advantages over traditional machine vision systems in industrial settings. Smart cameras are successful and beneficial for non-contact measurement, product, and processing inspection, quantifying, sorting, and identification, also, for code reading and robot input. Smart cameras are mostly considered most useful in the healthcare, entertainment, and education industries.   

What are the Features of a Smart Camera? – Here is everything in detail!

Smart cameras offer a broad range of processor architectures and different image sensors such as CPUs, DSPs, FPGAs, I/O, software, and lighting components. This enables a lot of flexibility in the style of imaging performed in your application. 

For example, an FPGA best handled some necessary image processing functions. In contrast, a general-purpose CPU runs more advanced imaging functions. They segment the processing responsibilities to allow for greater efficiency, reducing latency and decreasing overall processing times. Smart cameras can provide high-quality imaging, mostly depending on the processing architecture.   

Smart cameras offer many benefits when deployed in specific industrial settings. Leveraging multiple processor architectures and a compact size can help tackle applications that PC-based systems simply could not. 

Real estate on the factory floor is a valuable commodity. In today’s manufacturing environment, there can waste of space. Often, this creates space constraints that make using PC-based machine vision systems nearly impossible, especially when there is a need for multiple cameras. 

In this setting, smart cameras are an ideal option. Without the need to interface to a PC, smart cameras can provide localized pass/fail decision making, I/O part rejection, and networked management capabilities. All while reducing the footprint of the vision system. 

Lens 

Like other types of cameras, the lens plays an essential function in imaging quality. Lenses certainly refocus the field of view onto the small and sensitive image sensor and clear up any optical aberrations.   

C-mount lenses come with a flange-back distance of 17.5 mm and need for C-mount cameras. By contrast, CS-mount lenses have a flange-back length of 12.5 mm. Because of their shorter back focal distance, they cannot use CS-mount lenses with C-mount cameras. C-mount provides a diameter of 1″ and a 32-thread per inch mounting thread.

The CS-mount cameras have the ability to utilize both C-mount and CS-mount lenses. Though, C-mount lenses require either a 5 mm adapter or adjustments to the CS-mount camera. Hence, with their shorter back focal distance, they can utilize CS-mount lenses individually with CS-mount cameras. This CS-mount provides a diameter of 1″ and a 32-thread per inch mounting thread.

S-mount- It is a more miniature mounting configuration utilized in devices like PC cameras and board-mounted cameras. S-mounts use an M12 x 0.5 threads.

An F-mount lens utilizes a bayonet-style mount standardized by Nikon.

Resolution 

Resolution is the overall transparency of the image when displayed, as prepared by the pixel count of the image sensor. When it comes to smart cameras, resolution ranges from 640 x 480 to 1600 x 1200 are most common. Linescan cameras have comparable, one-line resolutions. Accordingly, we should use the lowest acceptable resolution to keep camera processing manageable and fast.

Lighting 

Nowadays, many smart cameras have an integral strobe to assure proper illumination. This supports decreased wiring, additional hardware and shortens imaging processing time, necessary components with machine vision systems.

Frame Rate 

Smart cameras have image capture rates upto 25   35 frames per second. Yet, many cameras have partial modes capable of capturing 100 frames per second. Frame rates should not exceed the processor’s computational abilities, but that only concerns for older-model smart cameras as processors become more capable. Of course, high-speed smart cameras have been accepted. 

Shutter Speed 

This is responsible for the time light touches the image sensor and is generally controlled by an electronic shutter. It undeviatingly determines the exposure rate along with the aperture. Common smart cameras are programmable to have display times from 22   m to 1,000 ms. This feature is dependent upon the necessities of the vision system’s processes. 

Mounting 

Many smart cameras mounting come with holes for brackets and extendable arm mounts. For brackets, usually, two connection points are enough for proper positioning. Since an operator does not monitor smart cameras, they unusually use handheld or portable frame designs. Dust, tampering, and moisture covers can last long the life of smart cameras.

Auto-Lens

This is a mode in which the lens iris automatically adjusts to keep a predetermined level of light on the photo pickup device. The cameras which come with auto-lens method may also give automatic lens focusing.

Cooled Sensor

Sensors are actively cool. This occurred by a Peltier element or another method. Cooling decrease “dark current” noise and increase sensitivity.

Dome

Cameras enclosed in a protective dome made from materials like acrylic or polycarbonate. Most of the time, for accurate image capture, these materials are optically corrected.. This can make tamper-proof housing familiar for security use.

Gain Control

An automatic gain control also means AGC uses electronic circuitry to develop video signals in low-light conditions. It can introduce noise and, subsequently, graininess in the picture. Usually, AGC is disabled, and specifications present with this feature when turned off.

Gamma Correction

This is the nonlinear relationship between the video signal level and the brightness of the subsequent image element. Gamma correction compensates for this nonlinearity to render the image actual in color while supplying intensity to the original object.

High Definition

High definition means a video standard with higher picture sharpness, larger picture, more colors, and higher quality sound than common video standards. Moreover, the low-end threshold for HD video is considered as 1,280 x 720 pixels.

High-Speed Camera

When it comes to high-speed cameras, record images are at a higher frame rate than a typical camera. After registering, the photos can be playback in slow motion for close study of actions that may be ephemeral. This is particularly helpful for scientific research but also has a wide variety of uses. Almost all modern high-speed cameras in the contemporary world are digital in design. They have the capability of recording over 1000 frames per second. Too many frames per second sacrifice area coverage while also producing a large, unwieldy file.

Low-Light Camera

These are used in dark situations where an otherwise suitable camera will not reach an exposure level capability of capturing an image. The cameras include image sensors that are exceptionally perceptive of subtle light sources.

smart camera

Outdoor Rated

This outdoor-rated device comes to withstand outdoor temperature variations such as snow, rain, and other weather conditions.

Pan/Tilt

These pan/tilt devices have integral or optional mounting features allowing side-to-side (pan) and up-and-down (tilt) controllable motion.

Progressive Scan:

This CCD design allows the acquisition of both even and odd fields simultaneously. Each pixel includes information from one complete frame. This technology enables high resolution without the use of a mechanical shutter. Progressive scan cameras use for image acquisition of rapidly moving objects and accurate dimensional measurements.

Face Tag 

A smart camera’s ability to recognize faces is one of the most beneficial and significant benefits of installing this cybersecurity system. By using this gadget, you can have the ability to make sure that you only get alerts for real threats. You can do it by uploading your family and friends’ pictures or tagging them as unsuspicious in the footage. Also, you can customize alerts for your loved ones and pets so that you won’t bombard with notifications.

GPS and Geofencing 

The Global Positioning System in other words means as GPS and geofencing features automatically turn on the smart camera as you’re rushing out the door in the mornings. Inversely, it also disarms the system once you’re nearby to prepare for your entry towards your home without the need for manual setup every time.

Communication 

On top of capturing images, smart cameras also come with audio monitoring systems that enable you to listen to the conversations or watch out for other suspicious noise in the home area. Suppose you find that something evil is brewing within the perimeter of your property. In that case, you even can surprise thieves by talking to them away verbally to make them think that you’re inside your own house.

Wireless Design 

Most security cameras in the world today are plug-and-play. This wireless design eliminates the requirement for specialists in installing the system. You need to install the app, and your smart camera then connects them. This wireless design feature gives you the versatility to mount the cam anywhere you want, whether indoors or outdoors.

Cloud Storage 

You don’t have to fear that the footage will take up all the space in your smartphone because of cloud storage. Will instantaneously upload Videos from your smart camera to your account in the cloud.   

Built-In Storage and Battery

During power outages, you can still make sure that your smart camera is working as it comes along equipped with built-in storage and a strong battery. This feature enables you that you can still access the data once electricity comes back and the footage uploaded to the cloud.

Conclusion 

Smart cameras are rapidly becoming a household essential for everyone. They comprise numerous features more than capturing images and recording footage, and these devices come along with additional features such as face tag, motion detection, communication, GPS, geofencing, real-time viewing, and cloud storage to make sure that you will get the best out of your security system.

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