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Industrial Cameras and Vision Systems 

Miniature Industrial Cameras Designed for Autonomous Vehicles

In a crowded marketplace it is often hard to differentiate. In the case of industrial camera technology, we keep our manufacturer list purposely small and address what we believe are different segments of the market which are serviced by each camera brand, so we have a low cost camera, medium range and cost and a premium brand. It's a generalisation as there is some overlap of course, between these brands and our classification of the segments they fulfil.

The overlap between each brand is inevitable and goes back to the point of why it is hard to differentiate. The reason being that there are only a handful Industrial Camera circa 2005 of mainstream sensor manufacturers - and their products are found in all the main camera brands. So we can have a situation where we are specifying a camera based on it's new sensor, say the ground breaking Sony CMOS Pregius series which most manufacturers have raced to incorporate into their products (you can read about these new CMOS sensors here with the first in the family of sensors being the IMX174). Of course, each manufacturer has their value add which does offer differentiation. This can be achieved with a very good software suite, enhanced camera functionality, and size of course. 


Does the sensor size dictate the size of the camera?

It is the latter which is the main thrust of this article. Only a few years ago, a typical industrial camera could be held in the palm of your hand - and fill the palm of your hand, with some weight as well. Over the last few years camera designs have steadily shrunk, partly because the shift towards CMOS type sensors has required less in the way of supporting architecture around it. One of the key benefits of CMOS is it's SoC - or system on a chip design. This requires less hardware to support it, consequently cameras are smaller. However, that's also a little bit of a paradox as these newer sensors with a much higher pixel count have grown in size. This is an interesting point as it is now appears that it is the sensor alone that dictates the size of the camera - but more accurately as in this case, the camera barrel is the same size as the lens mount, so the lens mount is now the dictating factor.

Camera Innovation

And so on to our newest camera product which displays design excellence, innovation and differentiation in bucket loads. Sumix is a Californian based Sumix Hummingbird Industrial Cameramanufacturer of optical scientific products. They are relative newcomers to the world of industrial imaging for automation purposes. Perhaps it is this lack of 'pedigree' (I use the term loosely and not as a negative), that means they have gone about designing an industrial camera that doesn't follow convention.

Convention - namely a square box, with protruding connectors which is pretty much standard fare for most industrial camera design. And why not? This footprint meets most, if not all requirements of imaging products used in industrial automation, by far the largest market sector for these products. The square housing makes it easier to attach it to a firm mounting in what should be a robust and immobile system. The firm contact between camera housing and camera mount form a solid heat sink to pull away the heat generated by the 24/7 camera operation.

Cameras from Sumix - The Hummingbird

The Sumix Hummingbird USB3 cameras are a different breed of imaging device. They are equipped with all the paraphernalia of  an industrial camera - an industrial USB3 Superspeed interface, a C mount for the lens, and digital IO for trigger and control functionality - but all in a very small and light package. The company slogon is 'Small. Fast. Robust', and indeed it is all of these things. The barrel shaped design is not just a novelty designed to differentiate, this is the bit that gives away the camera's real pedigree - that of an instrument designed to be embedded in a very small area within a machine.

The build quality is superb and the metal body housing is machined so that the camera is encased in a total enclosed housing with only the connectors and LED indicator that are recessed into the housing. Recessed that is. So they don't protrude. So the camera is indeed very very small and lightweight. Ideal I would have thought for a remotely operated vehicle, autonomous machine or an airborne drone.

Further details and pricing from here (log in or create an account for more details). We have samples for evaluation.

Spot the camera!

Spot the camera - OK, so it's a very small camera and a very big lens...

Note the recessed IO ports on the back.