With the ever decreasing size of computer chips and the large availability of FPGAs it is relatively easy to integrate image processing steps within the camera module. Take for example our TMX series which is designed for outdoor observation/viewing applications. These camears are provided with a Video Enhancement Mode to optimize the video signal for maximum image contrast which is especially useful in unfavorable weather conditions. However it hasn’t always been that easy to integrate image processing functionality inside a camera.
Past and present day VEM
In the past when computer chips and FPGAs were not yet that fast and energy efficient, Adimec actually sold a separate unit that could be connected to the video output of the camera to perform the video enhancement.
The dimensions of this unit were 158 x 63 x 200 mm. Today the whole camera including the VEM functionality only takes a space of 45 x 45 x 32 mm.
The VEM unit also contained automatic gain control. This functionality is also present inside present day cameras and does not require an external box anymore.
Today the VEM functionality is mainly targeted for our global security market. For the global security market, the VEM can be used to eliminate the effects of a hazy atmosphere due to fog and/or sunlight scattering. The VEM thus allows you to “see through fog”.
The manual of the VEM unit also described applications for the healthcare and machine vision markets: for the healthcare market the VEM can be used to display low contrast microscopy images with superb image quality. For the machine vision market the manual mentioned the following application:
“A camera system in combination with VEM can be used for a variety of vision applications like contactless measurement, character recognition and surface inspection. It is capable of displaying very low contrast images for instance “letters written with milk on a white sheet of paper”. Image contrast levels of down to 2.5% will be displayed at 100 % contrast.”
So the availability of faster and more energy efficient processing allowed for more functionality to be integrated in the camera while still maintaining a very small outline. This goes way beyond just video contrast enhancement to include color processing, white balance, flat field corrections, and more. Which functionality would you like to see being integrated in the camera?