In its early days, embedded vision had its limitations owing to the lack of high quality cameras and high-performance embedded processors. Of the many challenges facing embedded cameras, the inability to capture a scene with bright as well as dark areas was a great bottleneck in many camera-enabled embedded devices. It limited the scope of their usage since most outdoor applications like smart traffic systems or autonomous tractors would be exposed to such conditions regularly.
Today, however, the embedded vision industry is going through a transformation with the advent of high-end cameras and processing platforms with performance as high as 275 TOPS. This has also led to the rise of the HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology that proved to be the catalyst these embedded devices required. HDR cameras enable these embedded vision systems to sustain high performance, irrespective of the lighting condition. In this blog, let’s look at how an HDR camera works and some of its key embedded vision use cases that will continue to be popular in 2022 and beyond.
What is High Dynamic Range (HDR)?
Dynamic range can be defined as the total amount of light from a particular scene. So, optimized exposure time is a huge necessity since this ensures that the brightness level in bright areas and dimness level in dark areas don’t affect the quality of imaging. If a captured image contains many bright areas and many dark areas covered in shadow or dim light, the scene could be described as having a high dynamic range.
How do HDR cameras work?
An HDR camera remains agnostic to lighting conditions. An HDR image is extracted by capturing, let’s say, three images of the exact scene; that too, at varying shutter speeds (or exposure times). The result outputs would be based on how much light was allowed to pass through the lens – creating bright, medium, and dark images. With the help of an advanced image signal processor, all the three versions of the images are stitched together to form a complete scene.
To learn more about what an HDR camera is and how it works, please have a look at What is High Dynamic Range (HDR)? How do HDR cameras work?
Key embedded vision applications of HDR cameras
As earlier indicated, today – the need for HDR imaging is vital in the embedded vision world, given the booming growth of outdoor applications to make life faster, simpler, and safer for end users. Let’s go deep-diving into some of the most popular applications that rely on HDR to deliver great quality images.
Outdoor AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots) and autonomous vehicles
Some of the types of AMRs and autonomous vehicles used in outdoor environments are agricultural robots, autonomous tractors, patrol robots, and delivery robots. A majority of these autonomous systems tend to operate at different times of the day. For example, agricultural robots are deployed in farms and fields to capture details of crops, bugs, weeds, etc. Depending on which time of the day they are operating in, the amount of light that passes through their camera lenses will differ. This is where a camera with high dynamic range can be of help. It can adapt to changing lighting patterns and capture images accurately in bright as well as dim lighting conditions.
Smart security and surveillance
The role of HDR in the security and smart surveillance market is monumental since it is powered by camera-based applications that offer accuracy and speed. Any change in the lighting condition should not impact the quality of the images processed by them. Let’s take a smart surveillance camera outside an airport that monitors people, or inside the parking lot of a major tech park that tracks vehicles coming in and out. These applications would have to operate on a 24X7 basis – exposing their camera lenses to daytime and night-time conditions. And they have to execute tasks like facial identification and license plate recognition that require high accuracy of the imaging data. It’s why HDR cameras are most of the time a must have for a smart surveillance system, as they offer high-quality images and videos to improve security and surveillance decision-making on the edge.
Large vehicles have started to heavily rely on surround-view capabilities that are inherent to Advanced Driver Assistance Systems. They operate using a multi-camera system to create a 360-degree view of the scene – offering high-speed imaging data. Of course, HDR is critical, considering that multiple cameras have to provide clear images despite varying on-road lighting conditions.
HDR cameras from e-con Systems
e-con Systems, backed by 18+ years of experience, has designed and deployed a massive range of HDR cameras that can be used in the above use cases. Given below is the complete list of HDR cameras developed by e-con Systems.
HDR USB Cameras
- See3CAM_CU81 – AR0821 4K HDR USB Camera with 1/2″ sensor
- e-CAM83_USB – 4K High-resolution HDR USB camera based on Sony IMX317
- See3CAM_CU20 – Full HD HDR USB3.1 Gen1 Camera
- See3CAM_CU22 – Full HD HDR USB Camera with LFM
- Hyperyon® – 2MP SONY STARVIS IMX290 Ultra Low-light USB camera
HDR Camera Modules
- e-CAM82_CUMI0821_MOD – 8MP (4K) HDR MIPI Camera Module
- e-CAM27_CUMI290_MOD – 2MP IMX290 Camera Module
- e-CAM20_CU0230_MOD – 2MP Industrial grade HDR Camera Module
NVIDIA HDR Cameras
- e-CAM81_CUNX – 8MP HDR camera for NVIDIA Jetson Xavier NX/TX2 NX/Nano
- NileCAM21_CUXVR – HDR GMSL2 multi-camera solution for NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier
- e-CAM20_CUXVR – Sony STARVIS IMX290 synchronized HDR multi-camera system
- SmarteCAM – IP66 rated AI HDR smart camera
GMSL2 HDR Cameras
- NileCAM21 – Full HDR GMSL2 HDR camera module with LFM
- STURDeCAM20 – IP67 rated Full HD GMSL2 HDR camera module
Smart HDR Cameras
We hope this blog gave you a clear understanding of HDR technology and the key embedded vision applications that need it. If you are looking for help in integrating HDR cameras into your products, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you soon next Monday!
Suresh Madhu is the product marketing manager with 16+ years of experience in embedded product design, technical architecture, SOM product design, camera solutions, and product development. He has played an integral part in helping many customers build their products by integrating the right vision technology into them.