OAK-D Depth Sensing AI Camera Gets Smaller And Lighter

The OAK-D is an open-source, full-color depth sensing camera with embedded AI capabilities, and there is now a crowdfunding campaign for a newer, lighter version called the OAK-D Lite. The new model does everything the previous one could do, combining machine vision with stereo depth sensing and an ability to run highly complex image processing tasks all on-board, freeing the host from any of the overhead involved.

Animated face with small blue dots as 3D feature markers.
An example of real-time feature tracking, now in 3D thanks to integrated depth sensing.

The OAK-D Lite camera is actually several elements together in one package: a full-color 4K camera, two greyscale cameras for stereo depth sensing, and onboard AI machine vision processing with Intel’s Movidius Myriad X processor. Tying it all together is an open-source software platform called DepthAI that wraps the camera’s functions and capabilities together into a unified whole.

The goal is to give embedded systems access to human-like visual perception in real-time, which at its core means detecting things, and identifying where they are in physical space. It does this with a combination of traditional machine vision functions (like edge detection and perspective correction), depth sensing, and the ability to plug in pre-trained convolutional neural network (CNN) models for complex tasks like object classification, pose estimation, or hand tracking in real-time.

So how is it used? Practically speaking, the OAK-D Lite is a USB device intended to be plugged into a host (running any OS), and the team has put a lot of work into making it as easy as possible. With the help of a downloadable application, the hardware can be up and running with examples in about half a minute. Integrating the device into other projects or products can be done in Python with the help of the DepthAI SDK, which provides functionality with minimal coding and configuration (and for more advanced users, there is also a full API for low-level access). Since the vision processing is all done on-board, even a Raspberry Pi Zero can be used effectively as a host.

There’s one more thing that improves the ease-of-use situation, and that’s the fact that support for the OAK-D Lite (as well as the previous OAK-D) has been added to a software suite called the Cortic Edge Platform (CEP). CEP is a block-based visual coding system that runs on a Raspberry Pi, and is aimed at anyone who wants to rapidly prototype with AI tools in a primarily visual interface, providing yet another way to glue a project together.

Earlier this year we saw the OAK-D used in a system to visually identify weeds and estimate biomass in agriculture, and it’s exciting to see a new model being released. If you’re interested, the OAK-D Lite is available at a considerable discount during the Kickstarter campaign.

OpenCV Spreads Smart Camera Joy To See Ideas Come To Life

Do you have a great application for computer vision, but couldn’t spare the cost of hardware needed to build it? Or perhaps you just need a deadline to pull you away from endless doom scrolling? Either way, the OpenCV team wants you to enter their OpenCV AI Competition 2021 and they’re willing to pitch in hardware to make it happen.

This competition is part of OpenCV’s 20th anniversary celebration, and the field of machine vision has changed a lot in those two decades. OpenCV started within Intel harnessing power of their high end CPUs, but today the excitement is around specialized acceleration hardware for vision processing. Which is why OpenCV put their support and lent their name to the OpenCV AI Kit (OAK) Kickstarter we covered a few months ago. Since then, the hardware was produced and starting to arrive in project backer’s hands. (Barring pandemic-related shipping restrictions…)

This shiny new hardware is the competition’s focus. Phase one solicits team proposals for putting an OAK-D’s power to novel use. University teams may have up to ten members, general teams are limited to four. Each team’s geographic home will put them in one of six global regions. Proposals must be submitted by January 27th, 2021. By February 11th, judges will select the best twenty-five general and ten university team proposals from each region, and every member of the team gets an OAK-D unit to turn their idea into reality by phase two deadline of June 27th. That’s up to 1,200 OAK-D modules available to anyone who can convince the judges they have a great idea and they are capable of bringing it to fruition. Is that you? Of course it is!

Teams will also receive additional resources such as an allotment of cloud compute credits to train their models, and naturally all tutorials and sample code released as part of OAK Kickstarter. No explicit resource for project team organization is mentioned, but of course our own Hackaday.io is available to support you. Best of luck to everyone who enters and we look forward to seeing all the projects this contest will bring to life.

OAK Vision Modules Help You See The Forest And The Trees

OpenCV is an open source library of computer vision algorithms, its power and flexibility made many machine vision projects possible. But even with code highly optimized for maximum performance, we always wish for more. Which is why our ears perk up whenever we hear about a hardware accelerated vision module, and the latest buzz is coming out of the OpenCV AI Kit (OAK) Kickstarter campaign.

There are two vision modules launched with this campaign. The OAK-1 with a single color camera for two dimensional vision applications, and the OAK-D which adds stereo cameras for that third dimension. The onboard brain is a Movidius Myriad X processor which, according to team members who have dug through its datasheet, have been massively underutilized in other products. They believe OAK modules will help the chip fulfill its potential for vision applications, delivering high performance while consuming low power in a small form factor. Reading over the spec sheet, we think it’s fair to call these “Ultimate Myriad X Dev Boards” but we must concede “OpenCV AI Kit” sounds better. It does not provide hardware acceleration for the entire OpenCV library (likely an impossible task) but it does cover the highly demanding subset suitable for Myriad X acceleration.

Since the campaign launched a few weeks ago, some additional information have been released to help assure backers that this project has real substance. It turns out OAK is an evolution of a project we’ve covered almost exactly one year ago that became a real product DepthAI, so at least this is not their first rodeo. It is also encouraging that their invitation to the open hardware community has already borne fruit. Check out this thread discussing OAK for robot vision, where a question was met with an honest “we don’t have expertise there” from the OAK team, but then ArduCam pitched in with their camera module experience to help.

We wish them success for their planned December 2020 delivery. They have already far surpassed their funding goals, they’ve shipped hardware before, and we see a good start to a development community. We look forward to the OAK-1 and OAK-D joining the ranks of other hacking friendly vision modules like OpenMV, JeVois, StereoPi, and AIY Vision.

High Performance Stereo Computer Vision For The Raspberry Pi

Up until now, running any kind of computer vision system on the Raspberry Pi has been rather underwhelming, even with the addition of products such as the Movidius Neural Compute Stick. Looking to improve on the performance situation while still enjoying the benefits of the Raspberry Pi community, [Brandon] and his team have been working on Luxonis DepthAI. The project uses a carrier board to mate a Myriad X VPU and a suite of cameras to the Raspberry Pi Compute Module, and the performance gains so far have been very promising.

So how does it work? Twin grayscale cameras allow the system to perceive depth, or distance, which is used to produce a “heat map”; ideal for tasks such as obstacle avoidance. At the same time, the high-resolution color camera can be used for object detection and tracking. According to [Brandon], bypassing the Pi’s CPU and sending all processed data via USB gives a roughly 5x performance boost, enabling the full potential of the main Intel Myriad X chip to be unleashed.

For detecting standard objects like people or faces, it will be fairly easy to get up and running with software such as OpenVino, which is already quite mature on the Raspberry Pi. We’re curious about how the system will handle custom models, but no doubt [Brandon’s] team will help improve this situation for the future.

The project is very much in an active state of development, which is exactly what we’d expect for an entry into the 2019 Hackaday Prize. Right now the cameras aren’t necessarily ideal, for example the depth sensors are a bit too close together to be very effective, but the team is still fine tuning their hardware selection. Ultimately the goal is to make a device that helps bikers avoid dangerous collisions, and we’ve very interested to watch the project evolve.

The video after the break shows the stereoscopic heat map in action. The hand is displayed as a warm yellow as it’s relatively close compared to the blue background. We’ve covered the combination Raspberry Pi and the Movidius USB stick┬áin the past, but the stereo vision performance improvements Luxonis DepthAI really takes it to another level.

Continue reading “High Performance Stereo Computer Vision For The Raspberry Pi”