Everything You Need to Know About Embedded Camera Product Hardware Design


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Ankit Siddhpura
Sr. Android BSP (AOSP) Engineer at Silicon Signals Pvt. Ltd. An active contributor to LineageOS and Google AOSP, Ankit has expertise in Qualcomm Multimedia. With a deep understanding of the mm-camera stack, Ankit enhances valuable customer experiences.

To know more about Google AOSP contribution visit – Click Here

Designing the embedded camera products involves a combination of hardware and software in their development hence requires one to have a good understanding of the two. These complex cameras are used in numerous applications, including industrial applications such as medical equipment, automobiles, video conferencing, security systems, aerospace, and defense. Each domain presents specific conditions and challenges that have a direct impact on their design and development.

For instance, medical applications need very detailed images for proper diagnosis while automotive applications need images that can be processed in real time with very little errors. It is clear that security-oriented systems rely on low-light cameras with built-in motion sensors, in contrast, aerospace and defense require cameras capable of operating in severe conditions.

This blog discusses the important stages in the embedded engineering of camera hardware focusing on the hardware selection, software development and enhancement of the performance. It will focus on the choice of the best components, the design of efficient software, and the tuning of the system to achieve certain objectives.

Also, the use of AI and ML will also be emphasized to demonstrate the improvement of features including object detection, facial recognition, and the use of predictive analytics. It is crucial to grasp these principles to design top-of-the-line, dependable, and cutting-edge embedded systems development in different sectors.

What Could Be The Possible Target Application Domains?

The target application domain must be defined, because this determines the general characteristics of the target application that the embedded camera needs to meet. Every domain and task has its specific difficulties and requirements that have to be considered to achieve the best results.

Medical Applications

Embedded cameras in medical applications must support:

  • Low Latency: Closely related to such important aspects as real-time monitoring and diagnostics.
  • Night Vision: Closely related to some medical operations and control.
  • No Frame Loss: Essentially important for preserving the content’s purity and avoiding manipulations with it.
  • High-Quality Streaming: Helps to produce high quality and clear images for diagnosis as well as treatment.

Automotive Systems

For automotive applications, embedded cameras must be capable of:

  • Running AI Algorithms on Live Previews: Improves attributes such as the driver assistance systems, fully autonomous car, and real-time traffic information.
  • Robustness and Reliability: Cameras should be able to operate optimally in various environmental conditions such as lighting and weather conditions.

Video Conferencing

In video conferencing, key requirements include:

  • Audio-Video Sync: It ensures that the flow of communication is not interrupted in any way.
  • Low Latency: Lessens latency to make it possible to have natural and real video and voice chat.
  • High Resolution and Clarity: Improves the quality of meetings conducted online.

Security and Surveillance

Embedded cameras in security and surveillance systems must offer:

  • Night Vision: These are very helpful for monitoring in less light or during night time.
  • High-Quality Streaming: More specifically, it allows for smooth and clear video imaging for observation and investigation of incidents.
  • Motion Detection: Improves security by detecting movement in the areas that are being monitored.

Aerospace and Defense

For aerospace and defense applications, embedded cameras must be”

  • Rugged and Durable: This includes areas of high altitude, pressure ranges, and resistance to unfavorable conditions.
  • Reliable Performance: In critical and demanding situations it maintains consistency in its functionality.
  • Advanced Imaging Capabilities: Sets up highly detailed and specific pictures for the mission-critical operations.

The setup of embedded cameras that would address the requirements of each application environment is a complex and important task. In this regard, leading companies such as Silicon Signals take these factors into consideration and adhere to the following standard development process.

The process that this journey entails covers all the design stages from the conception and hardware choice to the software development and performance enhancement, thus guaranteeing that the end product satisfies the requirements of each area.

Embedded Camera Products: Visuals For Better Understanding

To better understand the diverse applications of embedded cameras across different domains, the following image illustrates various use cases:


In this way, the identified domain-specific needs can be met when designing innovative and highly functional embedded camera systems for various industries.

Phases of Designing a Robust Embedded Camera Product Hardware

  1. Features and Architecture Creation: This phase defines the features as well as the general architecture as the initial step in the process of designing embedded cameras. This phase entails determining the specific features of the target application which can include the resolution, frame rate, power dissipation, and the prevailing operating environment. The system architecture is then defined in order to lay down the framework that encompasses the basic form of the layout in terms of hardware and software putting into framework the interfaces and system’s data flow.
  2. Component Selection: Component selection options include image sensors depending upon the resolution and sensitivity, processors which are able to process image data and to operate required algorithms, lenses corresponding to focal length and the field of view, power supply. The passive and active elements including the resistors and capacitors needed to complete the system are also chosen.
  3. Hardware Design: Schematics and PCB Layouts or putting all hardware components together is an important and critical step. This ranges from preparing clear and elaborate circuit diagrams and also coming up with the layout of the PCB. Other aspects such as SI, PI, and planning for DFA, DFM, and DFT features also play a very important role in reliability and producibility of the design.
  4. Mechanical Design: Mechanical design is the process of generating ideas to get it ready for the production stage. This includes the definition of the industrial design, the integration of the hardware into this design and the problems related with heat dissipation. Prototyping can be done by methods such as 3D printing and CNC machining, although the final prototype is followed by the production of tools in order to maintain high quality.
  5. Software Writing: Firmware and software will need to be designed for controlling the basic and more complex camera operations as well as the interaction with other systems. This includes writing firmware to interact with the low level of the hardware components, writing drivers for the peripherals such as the image sensor, and writing the interfaces for communication with other systems.
  6. Algorithm Writing: The integration of image processing, AI, and ML helps in boosting the advanced camera efficiency. This comprises creating the channels that work for functions like noise reduction and color correction and integrating AI and ML systems for sophisticated functions like an object recognition function and facial recognition function. Relatively new and commonly used is the concept of compiling, optimizing and tuning the camera. That is why fine-tuning of the hardware and, respectively, software parameters is required to achieve the highest possible performance and image quality. This phase involves tweaking of settings and parameters of the system to optimal standards and fine-tuning of the parameters that form the image enhancement block.
  7. QA and QC: QA and QC are integral in the process of affirming the effectiveness and reliability of certain or the product as a whole. Regularity checkups are carried out to identify flaws, then verify the final item to the specifications before customers put them into use.
  8. Certification: One of the key stages is the acquisition of the necessary certifications depending on the target audience and the environment. This encompasses following certain standards including FCC, CE, BIS, IPxx, and IKxx and getting standards relative to the environment and safety of users.
  9. Market Feedback: Feedback from the users is valuable and this is because it assists in the enhancing of the product. This entails getting real users to employ the product and getting their feedback and continually refine the product in the process with a view of improving on the efficiency and quality that the user will experience.

Choosing The Ideal Hardware for Designing Embedded Cameras

The correct choice of hardware components is a key to creating optimized embedded cameras. Here’s a breakdown of key considerations:

  • Price Planning: Determine the position of the Bill of Material (BOM) and the total cost of the product to not exceed the set upper limit.
  • Image Sensor: From the CCD or CMOS sensors compare the resolution, the size of the sensors, the ratio form, day/night vision and the size of pixels.
  • Interface Type: Choose the kind of connection to use with image sensors by identifying the interface such as MIPI CSI, parallel, or USB connection with SoC.
  • Shutter Type: Rolling shutter is generally used when the need is not very urgent while global shutter is used when an object requires to be captured immediately.
  • Lens Selection: Choose the adjusted lens angle of view, the relative focal length, FOV, distortion, sharpness, and picture definition.
  • IR LED: IR LEDs should be chosen for night vision planning.
  • Focus Mechanism: Choose between the auto-focus, manual focus, or fixed focus and then choose the correct actuator.
  • Field of View (FOV): Hence, it is required to define what particular FOV is required for the application.
  • Processor or FPGA: Compare processors (e. g. , Qualcomm, Texas Instruments) to some of your multi-channel camera interfaces need and want lists.
  • Image Signal Processor (ISP): Estimate the need in post-image processing and handling of 3A algorithms taking into account options related to image sensor side, SoC side or adding an external ISP.
  • SDK Support: This will give it deep level access, with Linux and/or Android compatibility and also ease to integrate third party libraries.
  • Tuning Support: Find out instruments and arrange with tuning labs for hardware tweaking.

The key points outlined above on the choice of hardware guarantee that the embedded camera matches the given application level. It would be wise to avail exceptional and trusted hardware engineering services to harness an efficient and useful product as possible.

The Fundamentals of Writing Software for Embedded Cameras

We’ll also aim at focusing on the system software and its development in embedded cameras. Software programming in this aspect entails dealing with the physical hardware of the devices and the system they run on. Here’s a detailed look at the software development process:

  • Linux Board Support Package (BSP): Linux has a Video for Linux 2 (v4l2) architecture in the kernel to interact with the drivers of the camera. Here, manufacturers can contemplate various camera parts, including image sensors, actuators, flashlights, MIPI CSI, VFE, ISP/IPU (as per Rockchip SoC), etc. These components are open to the Userland applications with the help of frameworks and utilities like GStreamer, libcamera, and v4l2-ctl.
  • Android Board Support Package (BSP): In Android, HAL is implemented in the place of utilities and frameworks which is usually available in Linux BSPs. It also uses MM Camera or Chi-sdk in Qualcomm devices to interact with the lower level camera hardware of a device.
  • Non-ISP Based SoCs: Specifically for systems that do not possess an ISP, it becomes difficult to make efficient implementations of the 3A (Auto-Exposure, Auto-White-Balance, Auto-Focus) algorithms in the userland. This approach may result in slow image processing, and this saturates the CPU. There is much software that can resolve these challenges, for example, SoftISP from NXP.
  • Protocol Support: It is required for end applications to support the ONVIF and RTSP protocol to facilitate compatibility with other devices. Real time integration of AI/ML algorithms in high-speed frames is also effective for augmenting the features of the camera.

Thus, gaining an understanding of the indicated aspects of software development will allow designers of embedded camera systems to achieve the desired performance, reliability, and functionality of the target application.

Process and Parameters for Camera Tuning

Camera tuning is critical in getting the best image quality especially when interacting with new image sensors. Here’s an overview of the tuning process and its key parameters:


Tuning Parameters: The tuning process comprises Autofocus (AF), Auto Exposure (AE), Auto White Balance (AWB), De-Noising, bad pixel correction, Gamma correction, tone mapping, Antibanding, Sharpness, and color definition.

Infrastructure: Camera tuning demands a particular environment, Light booth, Macbeth ColorChecker, TE42 charts, and ISO charts, and some other setups, which imagine real-life situations of lighting.

Tuning Process: It allows enhancing the given camera sensor that has some specific exposure and light conditions to show the final quality of the image creation

Tools for Tuning: Different processor vendors provide tools to facilitate camera tuning. Examples include:

  • TI Vision SDK – DCC Tool (Texas Instruments)
  • Chromatix (Qualcomm)
  • RKISP Tuner

Visual Comparison: Before-and-after photos can visually demonstrate the impact of tuning on image quality, highlighting improvements achieved through the tuning process.

By following a structured tuning process and using the right tools and infrastructure, camera developers can optimize image quality and performance for various applications.

Key Parameters for Camera Selection You Must Know

In choosing the camera, the following factors are considered to be the important parameters: Here are some important factors to look at:

  1. Image Sensor Type: CMOS and CCD are the two types of sensors that you can choose from. The latter is known as CMOS, which is preferred to the former as it has low power consumption rate and high readout rates.
  2. Lens Mount: All the aspects must be suited for the desired lenses. Two of the most familiar types are C-mount and CS-mount.
  3. Audio Video Synchronization: For such applications that include audio, it is recommended that before playback the two mediums should be synchronized as they should be played at the same time.
  4. Motion Detection: Active inputs like motion detectors, temperature sensors, and pressure should be provided as standard options, or bought in as software options for security or surveillance systems.
  5. Compression: It is useful to employ following efficient compression algorithms like H. 264 or H. 265 to have substantially smaller file size without losing the quality of the image.
  6. Integration of 3A Algorithms and AI: Ensure the proper implementation of Auto-Focus (AF), Auto-Exposure (AE), Auto-White-Balance (AWB) & also the support for AI/ML either in software or in hardware.
  7. Image Stabilization: For moving cameras it is advisable to use a camera with stabilization algorithms to minimize blur and have higher quality photos.
  8. Sensor Output Color Format: Choose the suitable color format according to your application to proceed with Bayer, YCbCr, RGB, RAW YUV and JPEG.
  9. Latency: Reduce as much as possible the time that it takes to capture the image, process it, and transmit it in order to achieve real time operation.
  10. Frame Rate: Select the correct frame rate for a camera that would enhance the flow of video regardless of the application it will be used in ranging from rapid moving objects or high speed recording.

Taking the above factors into consideration will assist you to find a suitable camera that suits your needs to the best for your application.

Tips from Silicon Signals for Embedded Camera Design

When designing embedded camera products, consider the following tips from Silicon Signals:

  1. Image Sensor Choice: Choose the image sensor which would follow the requirement of light sensitivity and application’s required image resolution. This yields the overall best image quality.
  2. Processor Selection: In selecting processors to use in your image processing duties ensure that they are powerful enough to deliver on their promise. This eliminates chances of congestion at certain productive stations allowing the production line to run smoothly.
  3. Thermal Management: Adequate solutions for thermal management should then be considered as critical in jobs which require the efficiency of the systems especially in adverse conditions.
  4. Testing Procedures: To ensure reliability and consistently good pictures, it is necessary to incorporate effective testing procedures for the LIDAR under different lighting conditions and scenarios.
  5. Hardware Abstraction Layers (HAL): Simplify update and new features through the introduction of the HAL to enhance the work of flexible software frameworks. This provides scalability and feasibility of your camera design and makes it future proof.

The above tips therefore help in designing the embedded cameras that offer his application the required performance, reliability and flexibility.


Developing embedded camera products for a market that values quality is a complex process, which addresses the need for reliability and the synergy of hardware and software. It requires the engineer to identify the right image sensor, lens, and processors for the job depending on the application’s needs for light sensitivity, image resolution, or processing speed. Thermal challenges are important to be solved in order to reach the effective performance of systems especially in tough conditions.

Proper testing methods are very essential to check the functionality of the camera under all possible light settings and competency of the camera icon. Using advanced HALs and free-form software architectures allows implementing new functionality and integrating them to the camera without much issues increasing the performance of the camera.

Partnering with a leading provider of embedded design services while also following guidelines and the tips mentioned above, designers can expand on the state-of-art embedded camera products that can be used in different applications in areas like medical instruments, automotive systems, security and others.

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