Automatic inspection by machine vision is leading to the dawn of the “smart factory,” eliminating errors resulting from human manual operations, improving quality consistency, increasing productivity, reducing production costs, and enhancing customer satisfaction. With consideration for limited floor space and budgeting for installation, small, compact, integrated, easily installed vision systems are drawing more interest from operators who are looking for a competitive advantage, and these systems have seen annual sales growth of 30% in recent years.
Multiple solution options – with their own advantages and disadvantages – currently exist for machine vision applications. Embedded vision systems provide great computing performance, but with a larger footprint, more complex deployment, and higher price tag. Industrial smart cameras offer a compact size and fanless operation, but require a lower power, lower performance ARM-based CPU with limited memory – and therefore limited imaging capabilities. However, the convergence of high performance and low power consumption on Intel’s processor roadmap has opened up the possibility for an x86-based industrial smart camera solution that offers the best features from both larger embedded systems and smaller conventional smart cameras, providing a new alternative for machine vision applications.