Understanding Embedded Vision Interfaces for Your Application

Understanding Embedded Vision Interfaces for Your ApplicationEmbedded vision technology enables new applications in a wide range of industries, introducing the benefits of vision systems into existing products for greater levels of autonomy and intelligence.

Embedded vision systems operate in environments where traditional machine vision systems cannot. They’re small and can be easily integrated into existing designs. They feature low power consumption for minimal impact on the operations of the machine they’re embedded in, and they facilitate lower production costs as they lack much of the hardware and costs associated with regular machine vision systems. 

If you’re considering the use of embedded vision in your application, choosing the correct interface is critically important for the functionality of the whole system. The interface options for embedded vision will not be the same as those for machine vision. 

Types of Embedded Vision Interfaces

There are a few common interfaces that are small, flexible and powerful enough to work in various embedded vision applications. 

USB 3.0

The USB 3.0 interface features much higher bandwidth than the USB 2.0 interface, up to 360 MB/s. For embedded applications, USB 3.0 is easily integrated with the USB3 Vision Standard. It also features plug and play functionality, drastically reducing development costs. However, the connectors are large and the cables are less flexible, making it a poor option for applications with tight space constraints. 

Flat Flex Cables

Flat flex cables facilitate the use of proprietary parallel interfaces, as well as proprietary serial interfaces. The former features a maximum cable length of less than 50cm, making it an acceptable choice in applications with tight space constraints but challenging for applications requiring longer cable lengths. The proprietary serial interface allows for cable lengths up to just under 1 meter but is primarily used for field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). 


MIPI CSI-2 is one of the most common embedded vision interfaces. It was originally developed for mobile devices, but it’s 300 MB/s bandwidth makes it ideal for high performance embedded vision systems. However, the maximum cable length is under 30cm, which can be a design challenge in some applications, and if a driver for the camera is not available, extra development costs can be incurred. 

Embedded vision systems can leverage a variety of interfaces. The space constraints and bandwidth requirements will be among the chief determining factors of which interface is used, as will the type of processor being used. 

Embedded vision technology transforms applications by bringing greater levels of autonomy and intelligence into new and existing products. When designing an embedded system, choosing the right interface is critically important for the overall function of the system.

To learn more on this topic, visit our educational section on embedded vision to learn more about real-world applications and dive deeper with our Industry Insight articles.