First publishedon www.ITSInternational.com
The new Future Standards Forum will homogenise standards develop in the machine vision and partnering sectors. Here, machine vision industry experts discuss developments. By Jason Barnes
At the Vision Show
, which took place in Stuttgart at the beginning of November, the European Machine Vision Association, the US’s Automated Imaging Association and the Japan Industrial Imaging Association (JIIA) established a joint initiative, the Future Standards Forum (FSF). This, said the EMVA’s President Toni Ventura, aims to provide proactive, strategic guidance to the development of industry standards and to minimise the creation of conflicting standards within both the machine vision and neighbouring industries. It will also promote the re-use and harmonisation of existing standards in order to minimise and prevent duplicated effort.
Significantly, the FSF’s remit recognises that application specifics should play a large role in future systems’ development. That raises the possibility of camera manufacturers working in a closer, more structured fashion with ITS manufacturers and users. It also raises the issue of which are the most relevant to the transport sector. Interface standards such as Camera Link and CoaXPress are now considered mature but relative newcomers such as GigE Vision – as industry experts such as Point Grey
’s Product Manager Paul Kozik notes – have been adopted with enthusiasm. It and the even newer USB 3 Vision were very much in evidence at the Vision show, but are standards heading in the right direction?
Obligation and emphasis
Steve Hearn, Stemmer Imaging
’s Director of Sales, challenges the absolute need: “Standards aren’t absolutely necessary for the development of an OEM product such as an enforcement camera. They only become important if you’re constructing a system which is trying to combine two or more manufacturers’ technology, or want supplier flexibility. Then, interface standards such as GenICam become useful; this exists at the software level and regulates how communication to camera technologies should be achieved without necessarily limiting features.”
Many, says Hearn, see standards as an exercise in dumbing down, in that they force conformity and reduce differentiation. But this needn’t be the case, he continues.
“I can see that for the majority of people having a standard is useful. The risk comes from standards which are loosely defined and therefore open to interpretation. You end up with standards within standards. People also have to appreciate different standards’ levels. FireWire DCAM, GigE Vision, USB 3 Vision and so on are transport layer standards but these can feed into GenICam. In some respects I think many people would be better served by working to GenICam rather than the transport layer standards.”
A positive development is that, overall, the standards definition committees are getting much faster and more effective: “Everyone sees the benefits of shorter times to market. That’s necessary because the pace of development is accelerating. We didn’t have that many sensor manufacturers even just a few years ago but that’s changed with CMOS sensors having become worthwhile.”
The absence of a single player big enough to force de facto standards on the machine vision industry makes cooperation all the more essential, says Joost van Kuijk, Adimec
’s VP Marketing and Technology.
“Fewer standards would perhaps be better. We need worldwide standards and it’s useful that moves have been made to bring together the definition efforts in Europe, Asia and North America. I don’t see too much duplication in the standards we have at present – each has its own space as applications get more complex. There are common trends, though. Data rates are rising whilst trigger rates are getting faster. We have now all that we need to go from the apps at the lowest end up to 10GP/s, where in reality there are so few real applications that solutions can probably get away with being bespoke.”
Timing and platforms
Arlin Kalenchuk, Product Manager with Allied Vision Technologies
(AVT), sees smarter triggering as a development ‘sweet spot’ for ITS. Precision Time Protocol (PTP) has particular relevance, he feels.
“We’re seeing more and more suppliers offering this. It allows software triggering of multiple cameras over GigE Vision, where once a hardware trigger was needed. With PTP, all of a network’s cameras’ clocks can be synchronised and then, once synchronised, they can be triggered all at the same time. You can also synchronise the clocks to GPS.
“That means you can associate GPS time with an image and you can provide GPS time on a camera which doesn’t have a GPS clock installed. That’s a big potential cost saving.”
Another healthy development is that camera manufacturers are also beginning to offer operating systems besides Windows.
“Linux is becoming better supported as a platform for software. At present, Allied Vision is the only manufacturer offering a QNX driver, a real-time operating system which allows you to be very deterministic when it comes to software triggering, and a nice competitive advantage for us which links back to real-world timing and the ability to support time-critical applications.”