Texas Instruments has announced two new digital-media processor integrated circuits–DM8168 and DM8148- in the DaVinci family for engineers who require faster processing of video information in products that range from video-conference equipment to video-security and surveillance systems. During a briefing by people at TI the words “video analytics” came up many times, applied to security equipment and applications. So, what is video analytics and could engineers also apply it to robotic systems? (TI didn’t mention robotics in the briefing.)
Applications that automatically analyze live video streams and need to process information in more than a single image offer fertile ground for video analytics. According to Texas Instruments, “State-of-the-art video analytics algorithms, or complex math functions made possible through a digital signal processor in a video camera, detect, track, and map the positions of people, vehicles and other objects as they move and interact within a camera’s field of view.” That short description opens many possibilities outside of video-surveillance applications. In robotics, consider recognition of proper components for assembly, tracking motion, mapping position, finding locations, ensuring correct end-effector positions, and integration of safety capabilities. They all seem like promising areas for investigation of new image-analysis techniques.
If it sounds too complicated, rest easy. In addition to an ARM Cortex-A8 CPU, the DaVinci digital-media processors have a digital signal processor (DSP) and a video-processing subsystem that let engineers and programmers take advantage of royalty-free video and other signal-processing algorithms. To make development life even better, TI provides a library of vision-related code for people to use as a starting point for designs and a Linux EZ Software Development Kit (SDK). The new DaVinci chips have capabilities that also will appeal to engineers who design high-end video equipment, video signs, entertainment systems, video-conference hardware, broadcasting electronics, and so on. Those areas represent the key areas TI aims to reach. For SDK information, visit: http://focus.ti.com/docs/toolsw/folders/print/linuxezsdk-davinci.html.
Find more information about the new DaVinci family members at: http://focus.ti.com/docs/prod/folders/print/tms320dm8168.html and http://focus.ti.com/docs/prod/folders/print/tms320dm8148.html.
TI will have an evaluation board for the DM8168 digital-media processor available in April 2011, but you can place an order now. The board costs $US 1995. You can use it to run a demonstration in under 10 minutes, according to TI, and have some development work underway within an hour. For information, visit: http://focus.ti.com/docs/toolsw/folders/print/tmdxevm8168.html.
Do you use machine-vision equipment or software? If so, do you write your own vision code or rely on libraries or off-the-shelf programs? –Jon Titus