Vision Leaders Join to Develop Camera Interface Standard

A bevy of machine vision suppliers met recently to kick off development of a camera interface standard based on the USB 3.0 interface (SuperSpeed USB). USB3 Vision is being developed specifically for the global machine vision market, and will take advantage of the USB 3.0 ports that will soon be standard on most PCs.

The aim of USB3 Vision is to give users plug-and-play capability using components from different manufacturers. It will offer bandwidth of 3.2 Gbps with both power and data over the same passive cable to 5 m length or over active cable to 10 m or more. Hosted by the Automated Imaging Association (AIA), the standard is targeted for release in 2012.

Several industry suppliers met in Ahrensburg, Germany in mid-September to kick off development of the standard. The development committee includes representatives of 3M, Adimec, Allied Vision Technologies, Basler Vision Technologies, Baumer Optronic, Components Express, Gidel, Hamamatsu, Matrix Vision, Matrox Imaging, Mathworks, MVTec Software, National Instruments (NI), Point Grey Research, Silicon Software, Sony Visual Imaging Products, Stemmer Imaging, Teledyne Dalsa, Toshiba Teli and Ximea.

Initial work on the specification is well under way with an aggressive release date of mid-2012, according to NI’s Eric Gross, USB3 Vision committee chair. “The USB 3.0 interface’s combination of high bandwidth and wide availability of hardware opens the door for powerful machine vision applications that will meet the needs of a wide variety of end users,” he said. “The architecture of the standard is based on existing consumer hardware and draws from widely adopted vision standards such as GenICam. We expect this combination to reduce the time to market for a multitude of USB3 Vision components.”

The building-block approach is not concerned with camera functionality, but instead just four basic operations: device discovery, device control, event handling, and streaming data. The standard defines the mechanics of screw locks for USB3 Vision connectors in various cable angles. The connectors are based on the micro-USB 3.0 connector, but can optionally support device functionality with USB 2.0.

“The fact that we received such a strong level of participation and commitment from the machine vision community shows that the market is ready for a USB 3.0-based standard,” said Bob McCurrach, AIA’s director of standards. “The plug-and-play nature of the USB 3.0 interface, combined with its strong brand awareness, will help open up new markets and applications for machine vision technology.”

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