Khronos and EMVA call for participants for camera open API - Embedded.com

Khronos and EMVA call for participants for camera open API

Having established the exploratory group in 2021, the two organizations are now working on developing the open, royalty-free API for embedded cameras, with design work expected to start in February 2022.

The Khronos Group, an open consortium of companies creating advanced interoperability standards, together with the European Machine Vision Association (EMVA) have formed a new Khronos working group to develop an open, royalty-free API standard for controlling camera system runtimes in embedded, mobile, industrial, XR, automotive, and scientific markets.

As reported in 2021, the two organizations formed an exploratory group to explore industry interest in the creation of open royalty-free API standards for controlling embedded cameras and sensors. Over 70 companies participated to develop a Scope of Work document that will guide the direction of the API design. Design work is expected to start in February 2022, and any organization is invited to join Khronos to participate.

Cameras are increasingly critical in diverse markets, motivating the development of increasingly sophisticated optical systems, image sensors and vision processors often utilizing machine learning technology. However, the lack of interoperable camera API standards increases application development time and maintenance costs while reducing portability and opportunity for code reuse, resulting in unnecessarily high integration costs for camera technologies.

Jon Peddie, president, Jon Peddie Research, said, “Cameras are everywhere and in everything, the market and applications have exploded in the last ten years. But a cohesive set of standard APIs has been slow to emerge making incompatibility challenging. Khronos, in conjunction with the European Machine Vision Association, is going to correct that and has formed this working group to develop an open API for cameras. This will be welcome news to industry participants and users alike.”

Khronos president, Neil Trevett, said, “The embedded camera API exploratory group followed the Khronos new initiative process with invaluable cooperation from the EMVA. Over seventy companies worked together from March to December 2021 to forge strong industry consensus on the need, terminology, scope, requirements, and design methodology for a new open standard camera system API. Now, we warmly invite any interested companies, vendors and developers to bring their voice and their expertise to the design phase of this important work.”

Khronos EMVA 2022-camera-illustrative-examples
The camera API design will provide applications, libraries, and frameworks explicit control over camera runtimes, through a precisely defined interface. (Image: Khronos Group)

The camera API will be designed to provide applications, libraries and frameworks low-level, explicit control over camera runtimes, with a low-level of abstraction that still provides application portability over a wide variety of camera systems with effective, performant control to generate streams of data for consumption by downstream applications and clients.

EMVA president, Chris Yates, said, “The close and productive collaboration between the EMVA and Khronos has been very effective in enabling a broader industry participation and diversity of perspectives at the embedded camera exploratory group than either organization could have achieved working alone. EMVA will continue to work closely with Khronos under our new liaison agreement to ensure that the interests of both the EMVA membership and the wider industry are represented at the new camera API working group.”

The camera API working group will start meetings in February 2022 and is expected to be of particular interest to sensor or camera manufacturers, silicon vendors, and software developers working on vision and sensor processing. Any organization is welcome to join Khronos and participate in this global initiative under the consortium’s multi-company governance process.

Industry support for the camera API

The following companies have put their support toward establishing the camera API working group: Adimec, Almalence, Analog Devices, Basler, Baumer Optronic, Cadence Design Systems, Collabora, Digica, Digital Air Technologies, Euresys, European Machine Vision Association, FLIR Integrated Imaging Solutions, Google, Groget, Holochip Corporation, Ideas on Board Oy, LunarG, MATRIX VISION, MM Solutions, MVTec Software, Nvidia, Perey Research & Consulting, Phil-Vision, Pleora Technologies, Raspberry PI, STEMMER IMAGING, Texas Instruments, VeriSilicon, and Vision Components.

Some of these companies put forward their comments in the announcement of the working group.

Christine Perey, interoperability and standards program leader for the Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance (AREA), said, “Lack of API standards for advanced use of embedded cameras and sensors is an impediment to industry growth, collaboration and innovation. Enterprise AR customers and systems integrators/value added providers will benefit from greater clarity, open interfaces between modular systems and innovation in the component provider ecosystem. This Khronos standard for camera and sensor control will increase opportunities for powerful new combinations of sensor and AR compute resources, integration with existing IT, and lower cost and complexity of future solutions.”

Arndt Bake, CDO, Basler AG, said, “Open interface standards such as GenICam or GigE Vision have been a key element to establish a professional machine vision market. Only by such standards we can ensure the interoperability of products from different vendors. I​t helped to shorten the development cycles of customers dramatically and also yields in a faster growing market. Therefore we strongly support the new open standard camera API initiative driven by Khronos and the EMVA.”

Jim Carroll, CTO, Digica, said, “Over the past two decades, digital cameras used in embedded applications have changed dramatically. As video capture quality and processing power have increased, so has the potential for enhanced features which were unimaginable in early camera phones. The proliferation of features has resulted in a corresponding plethora of software support. The embedded camera exploratory group has laid the foundations for a consistent and extensible API to resolve this complexity; Digica is pleased to have contributed to this project and welcomes the development of the API under the new working group.”

Laurent Pinchart, CEO, Ideas on Board, and lead architect of the libcamera project, said, “Due to high fragmentation and lack of standardization, the embedded camera space is subject to painful interoperability issues. Adding camera support in a product is complex and expensive, most often subject to vendor lock-in, when not practically impossible for small actors. Ideas on Board launched the libcamera project three years ago to address these issues in the Linux mobile, embedded and desktop ecosystems. We have contributed our experience to the Khronos camera exploratory group, and are looking forward to continuing collaboration with the industry on a new open standard camera API.”

Tilman Sanitz, head of embedded systems, Matrix Vision, said, “Existing standards, like GigE Vision and USB3 Vision, have proven that a standardization of software interfaces is beneficial for manufacturers and users. We believe that, in the rapidly changing world, embedded vision is significantly shaping the future of machine vision. A complementary standard for the embedded camera API is therefore important, and it makes camera control more reliable, hardware selection more flexible and shortens users’ time-to-market.”

Sean Pieper, director of imaging software, Nvidia, “A widely supported open standard camera API will spur innovation and reduce integration costs in multiple markets that use advanced sensors. Nvidia has supported the work of the exploratory group and is committed to participating in the design work at this new camera working group”

Weijin Dai, EVP, VeriSilicon, said, “With the strong growth of camera applications in automotive, IoT, AR/VR devices, wearables and smartphones, there has been a strong demand for a standardized camera API in the industry. The standardized camera API that the Khronos group is working on will help facilitate the deployment of new cameras by reducing porting efforts, simplifying the procedures of camera upgrades, and improving the interoperability among various camera devices. This camera API standardization effort is very meaningful and will be highly influential to the related industry. We would like to see this standard API to be deployed soon.”


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