Smart Modernization for Signal Data Processing Systems
Retrofit electronics expand existing analog systems with the possibilities of digital data processing
Especially in large infrastructure projects such as railroad facilities, for the monitoring of tunnels or the access control of company premises, older camera systems and sensors are still frequently used that generate and forward analog data, for example to a monitor. Although the systems function reliably, their age and technical progress mean that their range of functions is mostly limited. In addition, in the event of a defect, discontinued assemblies cannot be procured anew, or can only be procured at great expense.
One solution for modernizing such systems is retrofit electronics, which expand and upgrade existing analog systems with the possibilities of digital data processing. Here, the analog signal data is digitized and processed with FPGAs or ARM processors. Multiple signal inputs and outputs allow analog and digital data to be combined and, depending on the desired further processing, also displayed as analog data on a display, for example, or output digitally. In this way, previously analog systems also benefit from the more flexible processing options, faster data transmission without loss of quality, and unlimited usage and storage time. At the same time, all interfaces of the existing system are supported, so that the electronics can be integrated into existing systems. Defective modules can thus be replaced by more modern components with little effort, and the infrastructure can be continuously modernized. A complete system change, which involves effort, costs and risks, is not necessary.
Upgrading through low latency and image processing
Once the data from the analog sensors has been digitized, all the advantages of digital processing can be used, above all low-latency processing with response times of less than 35 ms. In addition, new image processing functions are available, such as color graphics overlays, picture-in-picture displays or video multiplexing, in which several color camera images are combined in a single data stream. FPGA modules or ARM processors are used for command control of the functions. Both technologies can also be combined and combine high computing power and fast data processing with low series costs for the electronics.
Modular design reduces effort and costs
For the cost-effective development of electronics for collecting, processing and outputting analog and digital signal data, Hema Electronic has developed a modular construction kit: the Hema Embedded Vision Platform. It includes hardware and middleware as well as a software framework, so users can get a ready-to-use solution in a short time. To start development, they select the interfaces and functions they need. More than 45 building blocks are available for this purpose in a library of ready-made circuit parts, which is constantly being expanded. In contrast to a completely new development, customers thus benefit from circuit parts that have been tried and tested in industry in many cases and from a significant time and cost advantage in development. The design risk is also effectively reduced. New functions or customer-specific circuit parts can be integrated.
SoMs deliver scalable computing power
The required computing power of the data distribution units is provided by System on Modules. They are available with FPGAs and ARM processors or a combination of both technologies and also include the memory and other EMC-critical components. The modular design reduces the complexity of electronics development - saving time and costs in this area as well. The interface of the modules is standardized, so that upgrades or different product variants are often possible without a complete redesign of the hardware. Hema has been working on this in numerous customer projects and for many years with SoMs from Xilinx and Enclustra. The new version of the embedded vision platform is the basis for the world's first industrial-grade motherboards with the nine KRIA K26 SoMs from Xilinx, which combine high computing power and AI capabilities with robust design.
To retrofit solution in six weeks
With Hema's embedded vision platform, retrofit electronics for existing applications can be developed in six weeks - from order to near-production prototype. The company takes into account the availability and life cycle of the intended components as early as the design stage and also supports its customers in all further development steps up to series qualification, including certification and approval. On request, the company can also take over lifecycle management and ensure early replacement of components that are difficult or impossible to supply.
Oliver Helzle, Managing Director Hema Electronic