September 2, 2008 - Starting in September 2008, Point Grey will introduce a number of new USB 2.0 digital cameras. New products include the Chameleon™, which uses a high sensitivity 1.3 MP Sony® EXview HAD CCD® for exceptional image quality, and a USB 2.0 version of the popular Firefly® MV. The cameras are designed to address new opportunities in the machine vision and computer vision industries, including applications in object and gesture tracking, test and measurement, life sciences, augmented reality and robot guidance.
"Point Grey is seeing more and more single camera applications that require the extreme ease-of-use that is only available with USB 2.0," says Vladimir Tucakov, Director of Sales and Marketing at Point Grey Research. "For most of these new opportunities, long cable length is not required and a maximum data rate of 480 Mb/s is sufficient. The customer wants to be able to simply plug the camera into a computer where connecting a separate FireWire interface card is either difficult or just not possible. Branching out into USB also makes sense from an engineering perspective, since it allows us to effectively leverage our past work on designing and manufacturing some of the smallest digital video cameras in the industry, like the Flea2 and Firefly MV."
USB 2.0 is rapidly gaining industry acceptance due to its general availability on a variety of hardware platforms. The vast majority of laptop, desktop, and embedded systems provide hi-speed USB ports, which maximizes system compatibility and minimizes the need for add-in PCI or PCI Express interface cards. Easy access to high quality, low cost components like cables and hubs also allows end users to lower the overall cost of their systems.
"One question that has come up is whether this means we will stop making FireWire cameras," adds Tucakov. "The answer to that is a definitive 'no'. Point Grey has been making FireWire cameras for over 8 years, and has established itself as one of the industry’s leading FireWire camera manufacturers. Quite simply, we believe in working with technologies that we think make sense and have a future. We are excited about new advances in FireWire technology that will double the bandwidth and increase cable lengths. Similarly, knowing that work is progressing on USB 3.0, which is expected to increase the maximum data rate to 4.8 Gb/s, also played a part in our decision to enter this market."
Existing Point Grey camera users will also benefit from the seamless software integration that is available using the FlyCapture® Software Development Kit (SDK). "The FlyCapture SDK has been designed to support both FireWire and USB 2.0 cameras using the same API," says Tucakov. "This allows a customer to buy a Chameleon, install the camera driver provided by Point Grey, and run their existing FlyCapture-based application without any need for recompiling or software changes."
Like Point Grey’s other FireWire imaging products, the new USB 2.0 cameras use a single cable for power and data transfer, implement a general purpose I/O (GPIO) connector for external trigger and strobe, and use a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) chip to control all camera functionality, including exposure, resolution and frame rate, pixel binning, user memory channels and more. The FPGA can also be updated with new functionality in the field.
About Point Grey Research Inc.
Point Grey Research is a worldwide leader in the development of advanced digital camera systems. With a network of distributors throughout the world, Point Grey Research designs, manufactures and distributes IEEE-1394 cameras, stereo vision cameras and spherical digital video cameras to a broad spectrum of industries. Through a close working relationship with its customers, Point Grey Research continues to be at the forefront of innovation.
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