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Implementing Vision Capabilities in Embedded Systems

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by Jeff Bier
Founder and President, BDTI
September 29, 2011

This paper was originally published at the 2011 Embedded Systems Conference Boston.

Abstract—With the emergence of increasingly capable processors, it’s becoming practical to incorporate computer vision capabilities into a wide range of embedded systems, enabling them to analyze their environments via video inputs. Products like Microsoft’s Kinect game controller and Mobileye’s driver assistance systems are raising awareness of the incredible potential of embedded vision technology. As a result, many embedded system designers are beginning to think about implementing embedded vision capabilities. In this presentation, we’ll explore the potential of embedded vision and introduce some of the key ingredients for implementing it. After examining some example applications, we’ll introduce processors, algorithms, tools, and techniques for implementing embedded vision.

I. INTRODUCTION

We use the term “embedded vision” to refer to the use of computer vision technology in embedded systems. Stated another way, “embedded vision” refers to embedded systems that extract meaning from visual inputs. Similar to the way that wireless communication has become pervasive over the past 10 years, we believe that embedded vision technology will be very widely deployed in the next 10 years.

It’s clear that embedded vision technology can bring huge value to a vast range of applications. Two examples are Mobileye’s vision-based driver assistance systems, intended to help prevent motor vehicle accidents, and MG International’s swimming pool safety system, which helps prevent swimmers from drowning. And for sheer geek appeal, it’s hard to beat Intellectual Ventures’ laser mosquito zapper, designed to prevent people from contracting malaria.

Just as high-speed wireless connectivity began as an exotic, costly technology, embedded vision technology has so far typically been found in complex, expensive systems, such as a surgical robot for...