SMART in English generally means good looking or intelligent. Let us go to the world of Machine Vision in industry where cameras do the main role in automated decision making, reporting and control in production, quality control, research, and classification.
Cameras or specifically Industrial Machine Vision Cameras are available in different resolutions, Frame rates, Color/Mono with memory and I/O built in. These cameras will have a sensor (CMOS or CCD) to capture light, convert it into digital video signals and I/O control ports. These cameras would provide the captured digital video signals in specific interface standards to a device that can accept the same . Most of the times this device is a PC – may it be a desktop or industrial computer with the needed interface port of frame grabber or an embedded system with that specific interface. It is now left to the vision developers to use the video signal to process, extract data, interpret information, control etc., towards an application in the industry from simple to complex tasks.
These systems require developers who have programming skills and skill set in understanding and creating vision algorithms towards the application need. This is highly effective but may be time consuming and not required for all kinds of simple tasks or less complex tasks to be performed in the industry.
Machine Vision industry requires application development that is simple and flexible to make changes in the implementation plants.
Vision sensors that has the sensor (CMOS or CCD) to capture light, convert into signals and do a simple straight forward task like just threshold and differentiate or pre- programmed to read a simple type or types of BARCODE etc. They are easy to install and use with defined way of installation and working.
Normal Machine vision Cameras always becomes intelligent to do the application through the software work done on the host system.
In between these Sensors and Industrial Machine Vision Cameras, a thought process evolved to behave like a vision sensor but with some application programmability power. This landed up in a concept called “SMART CAMERAS”.
SMART cameras are called smart and a bit intelligent because they can be programmed through the GUI interface provided by the manufacturer for different tasks. A smart camera will have a sensor, a processor, memory, and software mostly as GUI to create applications with some application specific preprocessing and algorithms to play around with parameters and arrange them in sequence as a SOLUTION on the camera. Smart cameras according to their memory and processing power can store many solutions for different tasks and can switch between these solutions. SMART Cameras are now a days available in very high resolutions and frame rates both in Monochrome and color.
Many of the SMART Cameras can also have options to include lighting and optics and can be selected as per need. SMART Cameras get connected to the PC through ETHERNET and can be accessed through network protocols like TCP/IP like any other network device. Users can have the same GUI software running in the SMART Camera loaded on the PC and create the application solution on the PC by taking video from the SMART Camera through the Ethernet port. These solutions can be uploaded on to the camera and can make the SMART Camera working independently without PC or still can have a PC connected to control or to extract data to data base or communicate with other devices through PC Ports.
SMART Cameras will also have other ports apart from Digital I/O to communicate to PLC etc., on an industrial environment.
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