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The camera has three boards: The front has the Varioptic Arctic 314 liquid lens and the CMOS sensor; the middle holds the on-board processor with built-in RAM and the backend is for output, whether USB or Ethernet.
The USB camera is fine for local tethered applications, Birkner says. "Other applications prompted development of the Ethernet version. It's the same camera board with a lens driver on it. The microprocessor is on the camera board. It can sweep the focus between points; change the picture, change the focus. The speed is programmed. It can sweep and then it determines the metric of which point is sharpest focus. The USB controller moves the data back and forth. In the Ethernet version, we change the board to an ARM processor with an embedded controller. It runs Linux."
This camera, of course, can fit a number of applications. One of the best for color is imaging of drug-test strips. The lines in a urine test are monochrome; a companion adulteration test checks to see if the substance really is urine. In the past, that test has been monochrome and, with the right illumination, can get a reasonable determination. But, says Birkner, the strips are all different so they had to be calibrated. "With color, no calibration is required. Variation is not a factor, and with this camera you can do it from a three-inch imaging distance."
Here are a few other possible applications:
One OEM is using them in surgeons' headsets to transmit data to high-resolution monitors. Focusing is extremely important, for example, in dermatology where moles are examined for skin cancer.