Embedded machine vision for one or two cameras

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Firstsight Vision is now offering the VA21, which provides a complete Windows (XP Embedded) based machine vision system for one or two cameras. It has a rugged, DIN rail-mountable enclosure that is only fractionally larger than a standard computer hard disk. However, this small size does not compromise the processing power thanks to the use of sophisticated programming techniques.

Unlike traditional smart cameras, the VA21 incorporates the 'processing' inside the PC control unit, as opposed to the camera head. This means that compact, standard, cameras can be used while the control unit can be positioned at a convenient location, together with other automation controllers and equipment. This arrangement saves space, allows the latest camera technology to be used, and generates significant cost savings owing to the use of a single, standard processor.

Interfacing with the VA21 is said to be simplicity itself. The unit is fully equipped with industrial-grade opto-isolated inputs and open-collector outputs that are wired using removable screw terminal connectors. The VA21 provides two analogue inputs with resolutions up to 1600 x 1200 pixels, while other models in the VA range allow the connection of greater camera numbers using analogue, Firewire or CameraLink connections (which means there is no limit to camera resolution). The VA21 provides LED input/output status indicators on each signal line for quick visual feedback. Standard connections are provided for the PC peripherals, and any type of standard monitor may be used.

Application setup software is preinstalled and ready to run, thereby eliminating installation and revision control problems. The VA21 can be used with two software applications: iNspect and Sherlock. iNspect provides astonishing ease-of-use, allowing a vision application to be setup and deployed in a matter of minutes. For more complex tasks, Sherlock provides a greater level of flexibility and control through the use of a scripting language, giving users the tools and capabilities for almost any conceivable application.

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