The European Machine Vision Association (EMVA) is working with standards group Khronos on an open, royalty-free API standard for controlling camera system runtimes in embedded, mobile, industrial, XR, automotive, and scientific markets.
Over 70 companies participated in an EMVA/Khronos-hosted Exploratory Group during 2021 to develop a Scope of Work document that will guide the direction of the API design. Design work is expected to start in February 2022, and any organization is invited to join Khronos to participate in the development of the API.
Cameras are increasingly critical in diverse markets, motivating the development of increasingly sophisticated optical systems, image sensors and vision processors often utilizing machine learning technology. However, the lack of interoperable camera API standards increases application development time and maintenance costs while reducing portability and opportunity for code reuse, resulting in unnecessarily high integration costs for camera technologies.
“The Embedded Camera API Exploratory Group followed the Khronos New Initiative Process with invaluable cooperation from the EMVA. Over seventy companies worked together from March to December 2021 to forge strong industry consensus on the need, terminology, scope, requirements, and design methodology for a new open standard camera system API,” said Neil Trevett, president of Khronos. “Now, we warmly invite any interested companies, vendors and developers to bring their voice and their expertise to the design phase of this important work.”
The Camera API will be designed to provide applications, libraries and frameworks low-level, explicit control over camera runtimes, with a low-level of abstraction that still provides application portability over a wide variety of camera systems with effective, performant control to generate streams of data for consumption by downstream applications and clients.
“The close and productive collaboration between the EMVA and Khronos has been very effective in enabling a broader industry participation and diversity of perspectives at the Embedded Camera Exploratory Group than either organization could have achieved working alone,” said Chris Yates, EMVA president. “EMVA will continue to work closely with Khronos under our new liaison agreement to ensure that the interests of both the EMVA membership and the wider industry are represented at the new Camera API working group.”
The Camera API Working Group will start meetings in February 2022 and is expected to be of particular interest to sensor or camera manufacturers, silicon vendors, and software developers working on vision and sensor processing.
Companies involved include Analog Devices, Basler, Baumer Optronic, Google, Holochip, Nvidia, Raspberry Pi and Texas Instruments, as well as Teledyne’s FLIR division and Cadence Design Systems
“Lack of API standards for advanced use of embedded cameras and sensors is an impediment to industry growth, collaboration and innovation. Enterprise AR customers and systems integrators/value added providers will benefit from greater clarity, open interfaces between modular systems and innovation in the component provider ecosystem. This Khronos standard for camera and sensor control will increase opportunities for powerful new combinations of sensor and AR compute resources, integration with existing IT, and lower cost and complexity of future solutions,” Christine Perey, interoperability and standards program leader for the Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance (AREA).
“Open interface standards such as GenICam or GigE Vision have been a key element to establish a professional Machine Vision Market. Only by such standards we can ensure the interoperability of products from different vendors. It helped to shorten the development cycles of customers dramatically and also yields in a faster growing market. Therefore we strongly support the new open standard camera API initiative driven by Khronos and the EMVA,” said Arndt Bake of Basler.
“Due to high fragmentation and lack of standardization, the embedded camera space is subject to painful interoperability issues. Adding camera support in a product is complex and expensive, most often subject to vendor lock-in, when not practically impossible for small actors. Ideas on Board launched the libcamera project three years ago to address these issues in the Linux mobile, embedded and desktop ecosystems. We have contributed our experience to the Khronos Camera Exploratory Group, and are looking forward to continuing collaboration with the industry on a new open standard camera API,” said Laurent Pinchart, CEO, Ideas on Board, and lead architect of the libcamera project.
“Existing standards, like GigE Vision and USB3 Vision, have proven that a standardization of software interfaces is beneficial for manufacturers and users. We believe that, in the rapidly changing world, Embedded Vision is significantly shaping the future of machine vision. A complementary standard for the embedded camera API is therefore important, and it makes camera control more reliable, hardware selection more flexible and shortens users’ time-to-market,” said Tilman Sanitz, head of embedded systems at Matrix Vision.
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