IoT Platform with ESP32

If you are interested in maker boards and IoT projects, you must have heard of ESP platforms such as the ESP-32 series. Considering the Wifi and Bluetooth features integrated, it is really an extremely cheap and cool gadget.

Cost-effective IoT Solution with Arduino

Arduino, on the other hand, is another widely used cost-effective open-source development platform for embedded and IoT applications. One thing we love about the Arduino platform is its IDE (Integrated Development Environment), which is extremely friendly to all users, including the new starters. Since both the Arduino and ESP32 are fantastic platforms, can we figure out a way to take advantages of them both?

Arducam IoTai – ESP32 based UNO board with camera support

Arducam ESP32 UNO PSRAM (Arducam IoTai) is an upgrade to its predecessor ESP32 UNO board. It’s a solution to IoT (Internet of Things) and simple AI (Artificial Intelligence) applications based on ESP-32. This board incorporates an external 4MByte PSRAM that enlarges the RAM space and makes image capture and processing possible. The camera interface now can directly connect most of the parallel port cameras without additional hardware, like OV2640, OV7670, OV7725, etc., and transfer the image wirelessly to be used.

You can read more details about this maker board on the B0192 product page.

The board is also designed for battery-powered portable devices with its onboard battery charging circuits and supports lithium battery power supply. The SD card slot is an extra add-on for those advanced applications that require larger storage.

Based on open-source face detection and recognition library, it supports face detection and recognition in low frame rate. Its low power feature makes it an ideal solution for home security and IoT camera applications. The Arducam team also provides customized design and manufacture services, contact us for more information.

IoT Camera Module – Multi Camera Array 

The Arducam board supports both Arduino IDE and ESP-IDF software development tools, keeps the same form of factors and pinout as the standard Arduino UNO R3 board, and makes the Arduino shields reusable. That also applies to our SPI camera multiplexer shield. You can connect our multi-camera adapter to the Arducam IoTai as you would expect on a UNO board.

Low-Cost Smart Edge AI Camera

The ESP32 processor has dual-core 32bit CPU which can run up to 240MHz with a processing power of 600 DMIPS. It is fast enough to handle some image processing tasks like object detection and tracking, or even AI neuron network recognition like face detection and recognition. We have a video demo where you can see the Arducam IoTai board is running neuron network facial recognition algorithm and sending the result to the web browser through WIFI connection.

The better-than-most IoT board for machine vision

The ESP32 is already a better platform than most others in terms of IoT applications, and we believe that this ESP32 based board with camera module is also capable of becoming a better IoT board for machine vision. There are mainly two reasons for this, and they are its easy-to-use compatibility and battery-related features.

One problem that arises during a project is the compatibilities issues when you plan to upgrade the hardware to newer and more powerful hardware. You will always want to replace as little current setup as possible. Since this Arducam IoTai has the same pinouts and form factor as the classic Arduino Uno R3 board, you can easily move to our board while keeping your current hardware setting, and the hardware connection should also be the same, whether it’s an Arduino shield or just jumper wire connections.

The second reason is the battery-related features. The board comes with a 2-pin lithium battery connector and onboard battery charging circuits, which are really helpful for embedded projects without extra power supplies for simplicity and integrity.

Build your own facial recognition/detection system within 5 minutes

With this board, you will be able to build a facial recognition/detection system very quickly. Just connect Arducam IoTai to your computer with a USB cable for power, and then the board will set up a hotspot called “Arducam_esp32s_camera.” Connect your computer to that hotspot WIFI, then you’ll be ready to interact with this board.

Type in your browser and hit Enter, you will be able to view the control panel of the camera features. You can toggle all kinds of settings of the OV2640 camera, like resolution, quality, brightness, contrast, AWB, AE, and so on. You can also toggle the “face recognition” feature on to see faced squared in the video feed.

Just click “Start Streaming” and you will soon the video feed on the right side of the user interface. Toggle the features mentioned above if you want an optimal image quality. Click the “Enroll face” button, and it will learn the face and shows “Hello.” If another face shows up in the camera, you will see it squared in red with an “intruder alert” notification

Live streaming with 4 cameras

As we’ve mentioned, this camera comes with the same pinouts and form factor as the Arduino UNO R3, so you can still have access to the Arduino shields, so you can use Arducam SPI cameras multiplexer shield and Arducam SPI cameras to see a video feed of 4 cameras on this board. This board comes unsoldered, so you need to solder it on your own if you plan to use the shields.

Another preparation needed is to install the 4 SPI cameras onto the multi-camera adapter board as the following picture shows, and then mount the adapter-camera combination to the board like you would do on an Arduino board.

Upload the code to the board with the Arduino IDE:

Then you will be able to see the 4-camera demo in the Arducam Host:

A robot car from UCTRONICS

On releasing this board, we introduced it to many of our distributors all around the world. Among them, our top-level distributor UCTRONICS is very interested in it and even starts a robot car project that is built around this board. They’ve built a lot of smart robot cars based either on the Arduino or the Raspberry Pi platform, and one thing that bothers them a lot it how to balance between the camera feature and the cost of the robot.

For UCTRONICS, a robot without the video feature will be less interesting. With the Arduino platform, they will go with a USB camera and a WIFI adapter to enable the Arduino robot to transfer images and video feeds wirelessly, which costs a lot and brings the price of the whole robot up. The Raspberry Pi robot, on the other hand, costs even much higher because you will need a relatively newer Raspberry Pi motherboard with wireless features and a Raspberry Pi camera, which adds up to almost $50.

Our ESP32 PSRAM UNO board almost solves all their concerns. It’s a fully-featured IoT platform, and the built-in WIFI and camera module of Arducam IoTai make wireless video streaming easy. What’s more, this inexpensive IoT board has the same pinouts and form factor as the Arduino UNO R3, which is the very board they have been using for their previous robots, and that makes it easier for them to move all the previous works to the new robot.

We’ve already seen their hardware prototypes, and this new little robot supports line following, object following, obstacle avoidance, image capturing and video streaming to the mobile app, and some other buzzer, color, and light related features, and it’s programmable with scratch-based drag-and-drop visual programming software.

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