Congatec targets embedded vision at retail check-out

  • March 3, 2020
  • imc

Automated check-out in retail should be a key target for an embedded vision offering from German firm Congatec, announced at last week’s Embedded World in Nuremberg.

The platform is based on NXP’s i.MX 8 processor series. The application-ready Arm platform integrates all components required for Mipi camera support on the board, allowing plug-and-play connection of camera technology from embedded vision partners such as Basler.

As the platform is modular and based on the Smarc standard, OEMs can customise performance and implement their systems based on an ecosystem of off-the-shelf components. Thanks to its long-term availability, ruggedness, low power consumption and high scalability, the platform is suitable for embedded vision applications such as automated checkout systems in retail.

“We want to make it easy for engineers to design something straight out of the box,” said Christian Eder (pictured below) from Congatec. “The camera itself is small and is suitable for embedded vision applications for retail, but we are open to all applications.”

These other applications include surveillance and access control systems in facility management, industrial inspection systems for quality assurance, augmented reality for maintenance, and image processing in mobile and portable medical technology. In addition, interactive GUIs also benefit from the application-ready embedded vision platform, as they increasingly integrate gesture and voice control and optionally also employ artificial intelligence.

Thanks to a standard Smarc computer-on-module connector, the processor performance is scalable on demand and can easily be adapted to the requirements of the specific application.

“We wanted to make it as simple as possible,” said Eder.

Congatec offers 12 processor module variants from the NXP i.MX 8 processor series, ranging from the high-end i.MX 8 to the low-power i.MX 8M Mini. IOs can also be adapted more easily and cost-efficiently thanks to the modular concept.

Developed in cooperation with Basler’s embedded vision specialists, the development platform also meets all requirements for ease of use. Since the camera drivers are integrated into the BSP of the vision kit, the platform can be implemented without any hardware-related programming effort. This allows users to start directly with embedded vision system development.

“Thanks to our close partnership with Basler, we are able to offer our customers a unique embedded vision ecosystem that provides perfectly matched hardware and software components,” said Martin Danzer (pictured below), director of product management at Congatec. “This ecosystem makes it much easier for customers to enter the modular embedded vision world and greatly simplifies the development of customised embedded vision solutions. Rapid customisation of IOs is another benefit of such a modular design and most suitable for any small or medium sized project.”

The platform comes with the 13Mpixel Basler BCon for Mipi camera module. This module can be connected directly to the board because all necessary components for connecting Mipi cameras are integrated on board, so no additional converter modules are needed. Next to Mipi-CSI 2.0, USB and GigE vision cameras will also be supported, as are the artificial intelligence and neural networks of the NXP i.MX8 ecosystem, thanks to which image segmentation algorithms can be used, for instance to identify objects such as traffic signs.

On the software side, Congatec provides compiled binaries for download via GitHub. Including boot loader, Android, standard Linux or Yocto, as well as the appropriate BSPs and processor-optimised Basler embedded vision software, this covers everything developers need for an immediate start.