ERCIM News No.19 - October 1995 - CNR

VISIO - A Real-Time Multimedial Workstation

by L. Azzarelli, M. Chimenti, S. Minutoli and O. Salvetti

In the general context of the CNR Special Projects for "Robotics" and "Information Systems and Parallel Computation" and of the EU Brite-Euram project, it was decided to design and develop a workstation that would satisfy the main requirements of industral imaging in the quality control of material, components and manufactured goods. In particular, the workstation should meet the operational needs of a number of important artificial viewing processes such as stereoscopy, multivision, cinematic parameter determination, object recognition and classification.

The VISIO workstation has been designed and implemented at IEI-CNR for the development and execution of biomedical and industrial procedures. The goal of the workstation is to offer an efficient, general purpose environment for the acquisition and processing of multidimensional and multispectral signals in systems for artificial vision and to interact in real time with numerically controlled peripherical devices. VISIO is currently being utilised in the industrial quality control of manufactured fabrics, and in the characterization of materials and components for space activities. The detection techniques employed are based on visible and thermal radiation, and acoustic or ultrasound vibrations.

The station architecture consists of a multibus communication system that permits both the execution of concurrent procedures and the real time acquisition and processing of multisensor signals (see Figure 1). The communication architecture is defined by a VME bus, a Multi Video Bus dedicated to the transmission and parallel management of the input sensory data, and by one or more VSB buses dedicated to fast communication between the specialized CPUs and the relative video memories.

The hardware structure is based on several Motorola 68040s; one CPU runs under UNIX and is dedicated to software development activities, the management of internal and network communications, the graphic user interface, and the execution of general purpose procedures; other CPUs run under the VME Exec real time operating system and are dedicated to the synchronization and supervision of procedures for acquisition, processing and interaction with numerically controlled peripherical devices.

The architecture of the work station consists of a series of subsystems, each of which has considerable processing and functional capabilities: there are separate subsystems for acquisition, for preprocessing or evaluation, for memorization, for display and communication, and modules for system management and synchronization. In particular, the acquisition subsystem consists of a set of specialized modules for the detection of different kinds of sensorial signals. Figure 2 shows the station prototype currently operational at IEI.

The software architecture is structured modularly and permits parallel real time processing; both basic system and specialized application software procedures are maintained. The first consists of the UNIX operating system that guarantees standardization, portability and development, and of the X-windows system with a graphic interface for management and communication purposes. The second consists of four operational environments dedicated to:

The main features of the software are: