Image Capturing and Processing

Innovations in industrial machine vision are constantly trying to further increase performance levels while opening up new technologies to the mainstream. At the same time, there is also an increasing demand for industrial real-time capabilities of vision processes in order to be executed within a fixed minimal timeframe.

Kithara RealTime Suite adresses these key issues and enables the development of cost-efficient as well as performance-efficient machine vision solutions for industrial fields such as automated quality assurance, robotics, autonomous cars or medical technology. This includes image capture, image processing as well as subsequent control reactions all in the same real-time context.

Real time on Windows: GigE Vision Kamera

For industrial machine vision two camera standards have proven to be particularly trendsetting and future-proof—GigE Vision® and USB3 Vision®. Both standards feature a similar set of benefits that make them highly suitable for a vast range of industrial fields and applications. Besides high data rates, both interfaces can also be optimally used for almost any task due to inexpensive and interchangeable standard hardware. Both interfaces can be configured with GenICam 2.0 which allows for the utilization of default functions as well as access to manufacturer-specific features.

Task and solution

In machine vision, Windows is often essential, due to most vision applications running primarily on Windows OS. However, without real-time capabilities, developers are usually confronted with certain issues:

  • Individual data packets of GigE Vision or USB3 Vision cameras are not transferred, therefore, images are corrupted or only partial transferred.
  • The reaction time is delayed by the Windows application and is therefore, too long and not deterministic, thus causing issues for subsequent processes.

An appication example for the Camera Module of Kithara RealTime Suite is quality assurance in the packaging industry. In this field the assessment whether a product meets the specification or not has to take place in a very short amount of time in order to remove an unsuitable workpiece from the production line. The Camera Module of Kithara RealTime Suite solves this task impressively. To avoid the loss of data packets the Camera Module provides large-sized memory buffer and real-time network or XHCI drivers. The reaction to received GigE Vision or USB3 Vision images immediately takes place in a real-time context within a few microseconds. This also allows for immediate control reactions by triggering subsequent real-time tasks.

The need for high-performance real-time systems in machine vision is especially apparent with high resolution images at high frame rates, where regular Windows functions bottleneck the processing of incoming data packages.


Real-time machine vision with the modular system of Kithara RealTime Suite consists of the following components:

  • Real-time image capturing with GigE Vision® and USB3 Vision® cameras Camera Module
  • Real-time image processing with Halcon and OpenCV Vision Module

Camera Module

Image acquisition with GigE Vision® and USB3 Vision® cameras in real-time

  • Common
  • Features

The Camera Module serves as a functional module for capturing image data of industrial cameras according to GigE Vision® or USB3 Vision®standards in realtime. It provides all necessary functions for detection and management and for creating real-time streams.

Large buffer memory along with real-time network drivers reliably prevent any loss of data packets. The reaction to incoming GigE Vision or USB3 Vision images takes place instantly in the context of the real-time environment within a few microseconds. An immediate real-time task can be triggered, in order to execute an instant control reaction. Image processing libraries such as Halcon or OpenCV can also be used in real time, so you can implement powerful solutions.

The Camera Module delivers a data throughput of up to 125 MByte/s due to the real-time based network drivers, that means up to the theoretical maximum.

The results of the image processing can be given to the process even in the real-time context without any delay, e.g. over EtherCAT® or CANopen®. Accordingly, automation solutions can be easily combined with several other functions within Kithara RealTime Suite.

The Camera Module requires Network Module for GigE Vision or USB RealTime Module for USB3 Vision respectively.

  • Image acquisition with GigE Vision® cameras in real-time, event or request based
  • multiple simultaneous cameras, hot-plugging, error processing, configuration in accordance with GenICam 2.0

General features

  • every GigE Vision® compliant camera is supported
  • connect to multiple cameras
  • hot plugging

Control

  • automatic connection handling
  • full access to camera configuration space
  • read and write camera memory
  • set custom heartbeat timeout
  • start and stop acquistion of images by software
  • set acquisition mode by software
  • GenICam xml configuration file automatically downloaded
  • access to GenICam features to configure your camera
  • error handling

Streams

  • one or more streams per camera possible
  • acquisition of images in real-time
  • high performance acquisition, no unnecessary copying
  • set your own buffer size and buffer count
  • get informed on missed or incomplete images

GenICam features

  • enumerate all categories
  • set and retrieve all accessible camera features like image format, pixel format, frame rate, exposure time and more

Image Processing

  • write your own machine vision application using libraries like Halcon
  • image processing libraries are loaded to kernel mode using the //Kernel Module//
  • processing is done in real-time
  • do operations like: matching, segmentation, 3D matching, OCR and more

Vision Module

Image processing with Halcon or OpenCV in real-time

  • Common
  • Features

The Vision Module complements the RealTime Module and supports industrial cameras compliant with the GigE Vision® standard and thus enables an immediate control reaction when the image has been captured and received by the PC. The widely used image processing library Halcon of MVTec from Munich/Germany is suitable for further processing of image data in real-time*, so that the implementation of powerful solutions is possible. Alternatively, the open library OpenCV can also be used.

 

*The license must be ordered separately from the company MVTec

  • Real-time image processing—write your own machine vision application by utilizing libraries like Halcon or OpenCV
  • Halcon or OpenCV image processing library is loaded into real-time context
  • Image processing is connected to real-time tasks
  • Automatic parallelization
  • Do operations like: matching, segmentation, 3D matching, OCR, and more
  • Following the processing, instantly initiated control reaction, e. g. via EtherCAT® Master, CANopen® Master or PLC