XIMEA creates “world’s smallest” USB 3.0 industrial camera.

The one-cubic-inch xiQ series includes frame rates up to 600 fps and improved quantum efficiency in the visible and NIR spectral ranges. Source: XIMEA

XIMEA’s xiQ series industrial camera is billed by the company as the world’s smallest and fastest USB 3.0 camera for industrial imaging and machine vision. Measuring just one cubic inch in size, the xiQ series features USB 3.0 SuperSpeed, up to 400 MB/sec, global shutter VGA to 4 MP and opto-isolated input and output.

“The xiQ USB3.0 industrial camera is extremely small, implemented on a single PCB for ease of OEM integration into existing equipment and uses select quality components-FPGA controller, PSU-that lower power consumption and thermal dissipation,” says Max Larin, CEO of XIMEA. “The sensors are global shutter and of the highest quality, so customers can appreciate both the quality and quantity of their image data and data transfer speeds. Limitations are related to USB in general, which means cable length, although with repeaters or optical cable, this distance can be extended several times.”

Connecting the xiQ series cameras to industrial data processing systems, OEM equipment, and PCs is greatly simplified with the inclusion of opto-isolated trigger input and illuminator control output, as well as on-board non-volatile memory for user settings and custom data. XIMEA’s xiQ series cameras only consume typically 1W, easing the power and thermal management design challenges for OEMs and end users alike. And like all XIMEA’s industrial cameras, each xiQ series ships with application programming interfaces (APIs) for the most common image processing software.

According to Larin, the xiQ competes against cameras with other data interfaces, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. “USB3.0 certainly has the lead in user friendliness, market penetration, and future growth potential while simplifying legacy support,” says Larin. “Regarding competitors, Point Grey is a pioneer in miniature USB cameras and IDS also plays in this space. But XIMEA’s unique design and internal manufacturing capabilities mean our engineers have greater control over component selection and optimized integration, which is why the xiQ is the only USB3.0 camera currently constructed of a single rigid PCB instead of flexible PCBs. This simplifies OEM integration, for example, while allowing us to reduce heat generation for high-speed data transfers.”

In addition to OEM integration, XIMEA products are specifically designed to avoid the “me, too” solutions, as coined by Larin. “Our engineers truly want to change the traditional ‘proprietary’ paradigm that has hobbled machine vision industry growth and slowed customer acceptance,” he says. “To that end, the xiQ is like all our other industrial, scientific, and smart camera products: They are designed to work out of the box with more than 30 leading image processing libraries, such as software from Cognex, Matrox and National Instruments. This means XIMEA’s industrial cameras are finding their way into virtually every industry served by machine vision technology because our hardware-software focused product design methodology is geared 100% toward compatibility and tearing down walls, rather than building them to protect a product line or customer base.”

Its size not withstanding, what truly makes the xiO series innovative is its collaborating capabilities: the increased bandwidths of the new USB 3.0 interface, new CMOS sensors capable of acquiring up to 600 frames per second and unprecedented image processing library support. “[Put these all together] and the xiQ becomes a universal tool that can be highly customizable for a large segment of machine vision applications-particularly those where available space is at a minimum,” Larin says. “And don’t forget the single PCB construction. OEMs certainly don’t.”

The development of the USB 3.0 interface was of particular importance and focus for the xiO series. “XIMEA’s designers have long supported and participated in important standards development. As soon as our development department saw the USB 3.0 standard nearing completion, XIMEA made it their goal to be a part of the pioneers to bring the first USB 3.0 products to market,” says Larin. “This is a very exceptional part of the xiQ story. Because XIMEA’s are specialists in developing customized OEM cameras-and needed a new challenge after finishing XIMEA’s first PC Camera, the CURRERA R-XIMEA’s team completed the initial xiQ design in just 100 days. Of course, there was a little motivation to be the first to develop an industrial camera based on the first available USB 3.0 chipsets from our partner, Cypress Semiconductor.”

Since its release in Q1 2012, demand has been bigger than the company expected as industries see USB 3.0’s impact on industrial imaging. “From large distributors and OEMs in developed countries to backyard astronomers, everyone is curious and waiting for xiQ in quantity,” says Larin. Q

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USB 3.0 Interface

Up to 600 frames/sec.

VGA to 4MP

5GB/sec bus bandwidth

Plug & play compatibility with image processing packages

One cubic inch in size