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IP camera designs run Linux

Sep 12, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 20 views

TI is offering Linux camera application source code and free codecs with two new IP camera reference designs based on its RISC/DSP SoCs. The Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) model handles widely variable lighting, while a Video Content Analytics (VCA) model targets video analytics processing applications.

(Click for larger view of ZOT/TI VCA reference design)

Both designs evolved from TI's basic DM355IPNC-MT5 IP camera reference design, which was announced in March and is now shipping for $800. This WXGA (1280 x 720-resolution) design (pictured below, right) runs Linux on the $10 TI TMS320DM355 SoC (system-on-chip) combining a RISC core and a digital signal processor (DSP). The DM355IPNC-MT5 design also incorporates TI's analog, power management, and logic technology, including the TLV320AIC26 audio codec and TPS23750 Power over Ethernet (PoE) controller. The design runs on a claimed 3 Watts, and offers an eBOM (electronic bill-of-materials) under $40, making it competitive with traditional analog closed circuit TV cameras, says TI.

(Click to enlarge)

The basic underlying DM355IPNC-MT5 IP camera design was developed with Aptina (a division of Micron) and uses Aptina's MT9PO31/12STC CMOS sensor. The 7.13mm (diagonal) sensor is said to have a 5-megapixel active pixel grid arranged in a 4:3 grid measuring 2592 x 1944. The vendor touts low cost, low noise levels, low-light sensitivity, and CCD-like resolution.

Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) design (DM355IPNC-TC922)

The new WDR design, also called the “DM355IPNC-TC922,” looks identical to the flagship model pictured above. However, it swaps out the Aptina sensor for a TC922 WDR CMOS sensor from TI Japan. The sensor is optimized for high- and low-light conditions, says TI, and intended for security cameras that must capture detail from both bright and dark areas, even within the same scene or during rapid changes in illumination.

TC922 WDR sensor block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

The TC922 WDR sensor provides higher image quality than CCD (charge coupled device) sensors used in traditional 800×600-resolution CCTV cameras, claims TI. It is also said to support more vertical lines (560 TV lines), enabling a wider field of view and higher detail. Most importantly, it offers a claimed fifty times the dynamic range (at 94 decibels) than traditional CCDs. (A PDF on the sensor should be available here.)

TC922 WDR sensor.jpg

Like the DM355IPNC-MT5, the WDR version offers dual-streaming capabilities of MPEG-4 SVGA, MJPEG at VGA resolution, with G.711 audio, says TI. In addition, it is said to offer triple-streaming capabilities with MPEG-4 VGA, MJPEG VGA, MPEG-4 QVGA combined with G.711 audio.

Video Content Analytics (VCA) design (DM355)

Offered by Zero One Technology (ZOT), the VCA design resulted from collaboration between TI, ZOT, ObjectVideo, Aptina, and Appro Photoelectron (which distributes all three TI reference designs). It keeps the Aptina sensor from TI's flagship model, but adds a content analytics daughter board developed by ZOT. The daughterboard runs ObjectVideo's video analytics software on another TI DaVinci processor, the TMS320DM6435.

The modular VCA board can plug into the flagship DM355IPNC-MT5 as an upgrade, or can be purchased as part of the VCA design. Customers can swap out the DM6435 for one of three other pin-compatible DM643x processor models, ranging from 300-700MHz in clock rate, says the company. The ObjectVideo software is said to offer both robust and simple object classification, plus trip wire and Area Of Interest (AOI) features. Like the new wide-range design, the VCA design adds triple-streaming MPEG processing.

According to TI, the two new reference designs are fully compatible with the flagship model, and can “reduce system development to less than four months.” They are said to ship with free Linux application source code, and to include schematics, gerber files, and royalty-free bundled MPEG-4 and MJPEG video codecs.

Other IP camera designs based on TI Davinci chips include Nuvation's IP Camera, the Nexdome DragonFly, and the eInfochips IPNetCam, all of which are based on the higher-end TMS320DM644x SoC. The IPNetCam design also incorporates ObjectVideo analytics technology.


The wide-range DM355IPNC-TC922 WDR IP network camera reference design is open for order from Appro Photoelectron for $815. The analytics model, the DM355IPNC-VCA1, will be sampling in early fourth quarter from ZOT for $1,000, including the VCA daughter card, says TI. The ZOT card is also available separately as a $110 upgrade to the flagship DM355IPNC-MT5, which is available now for $800. All three designs are available royalty free.

More information may be found on TI's camera reference design page, here.

Demonstrations of all three designs can be seen at ASIS International 2008 security conference in Atlanta, Georgia on September 15-18 in the ObjectVideo booth, #3235, says TI.

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