What is the NI Compact Vision System?


NI Compact Vision Systems are rugged automation controllers that combine industrial camera connectivity, open communication, and FPGA-based I/O in a small form factor. They are designed to acquire and process images in real time from multiple cameras and provide the flexibility, integration, and ruggedness for many industrial inspection, alignment, and OEM vision applications.   

Figure 1. NI Compact Vision System With Area Scan and Thermal Cameras

NI Compact Vision Systems are powered by Intel Atom processors and are compatible with Gigabit Ethernet or USB 3.0 cameras.  They include, real-time display and industrial communication ports, and industrial digital I/O that can be customized using the NI LabVIEW FPGA Module.  Based on the GigE Vision standard, the NI CVS-1457RT and NI CVS-1458RT also includes advanced synchronization features such as deterministic camera triggering over the Ethernet bus and queued pulse support for tightly synchronizing the vision inspection results with sorting and rejection systems using a simple API. With NI Compact Vision Systems, you have the flexibility, form factor, power, and features to tackle the toughest vision applications.


Small and Rugged

NI Compact Vision Systems offer a fanless design, solid state hard drive, and extended temperature range, making the devices ready for the demanding conditions of manufacturing and embedded vision applications by reducing maintenance requirements and increasing reliability. The deterministic real-time OS also adds to the operational reliability and makes systems exempt from the IT department updates and intervention that Windows-based systems experience.

Figure 2. NI Compact Vision Systems offer fanless designs in a small package.

In addition to ruggedness, size is often a main mechanical consideration for industrial and embedded vision applications. NI Compact Vision Systems pack all of its features into a small 130 mm x 108 mm x 61 mm package, providing space savings in manufacturing and embedded systems.


Massive Software Ecosystem

The NI CVS-1458RT and NI CVS-1459RT are built on the NI LabVIEW RIO architecture and programmed with the familiar NI LabVIEW development environment. The NI Linux Real-Time OS helps developers innovate with the massive software ecosystem provided by the Linux community.

The NI Linux Real-Time OS, which adds support for the Eclipse Development Environment, also gives you the freedom to reuse existing C/C++ code or development expertise. Now you can integrate code libraries into your LabVIEW Real-Time application, or even develop your own stand-alone executable interfacing directly to your LabVIEW FPGA application. You have the flexibility to develop using the tools that best suit your task and capabilities.


Camera Connectivity

You can use Compact Vision Systems with a wide variety of image sensor types, including infrared (thermal), line scan, color, area scan, and 3D laser triangulation.


Figure 3. Compact Vision Systems offer options for both USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet cameras.

The NI CVS-1459RT has multicamera support with two dedicated USB 3.0 ports that can provide full USB SuperSpeed bandwidth to any USB3 Vision-compliant camera.  The NI CVS-1457RT and NI CVS-1458RT both have multicamera support with two independent Gigabit Ethernet ports for use with any GigE Vision-compliant camera. With this camera connectivity, you can use of a wide variety of image sensor types, including infrared (thermal), line scan, color, area scan, and 3D laser triangulation. Both ports feature PoE technology, which reduces system complexity and cabling by powering cameras over the Ethernet bus. For systems having separate dedicated power supplies, the NI CVS-1457RT and NI CVS-1458RT also support non-PoE cameras and have the option to disable PoE for PoE-compatible cameras. In addition to PoE technology, the NI CVS-1457RT and NI CVS-1458RT support action commands, which enable deterministic triggering of GigE Vision cameras over the Ethernet bus. This means you can acquire images, power the camera, and send triggers all with a single Ethernet cable.

Search the Camera Network to find a compatible camera.


Real-Time Display and Human Machine Interface (HMI)

NI Compact Vision Systems can output real-time images and pass/fail results from the inspection through the built-in VGA port. You can change all of the user-definable image overlays programmatically to create custom user displays.

Also, a simple web browser on any Windows 7 or Windows Embedded 7 touch panel can act as an operator interface for selecting inspections, updating parameters, or training a new part. NI Vision software provides the ability to further program an HMI for the NI Compact Vision Systems.


Industrial Communications and Onboard Digital I/O

NI Compact Vision Systems have have 24 reconfigurable digital I/O lines—eight 5-24 VDC isolated input lines, eight 5-24 VDC isolated output lines, eight bidirectional TTL lines, and two bidirectional differential RS-422 lines that can be used as a quadrature encoder input. These lines include built-in functionality for generating strobe pulses, triggering, and writing/reading from digital lines. Using these signals, you can dynamically control your lighting or cameras, synchronize with a conveyor belt, or integrate NI Compact Vision Systems with programmable logic controllers (PLCs). NI Compact Vision Systems also support the Vision RIO API, which allows you to easily configure a queue or pulses, providing a reliable, hardware-timed method of tightly synchronizing vision-inspection results with external I/O, such as conveyer belts and rejection systems.

In addition, the system can send commands and data to other devices, such as PLCs and operator interfaces, using industrial protocols such as Ethernet/IP, RS232/RS485, Modbus serial, and Modbus/TCP. With enterprise connectivity, you can also monitor the inspection results, view images, or store data in databases for statistical process control. Compact Vision Systems also have a dedicated Gigabit Ethernet port for network connectivity, a user-selectable RS-232/RS-485 serial port, and two high-speed USB ports for external data storage.


Flexible I/O With the LabVIEW FPGA

The digital I/O lines on Compact Vision Systems are directly connected to reconfigurable FPGA. If your application requires specialized timing or custom I/O behavior, you can use LabVIEW FPGA to reconfigure the digital I/O lines to achieve additional functionality such as custom triggers, timing, PWM outputs, custom digital protocols, and high-speed counters.

LabVIEW FPGA extends the LabVIEW graphical development platform to FPGAs, making it simple to write your own I/O interfaces and data communication mechanisms in other low-level software tools and hardware description languages (HDLs). This gives you the ability to customize the FPGA on NI Compact Vision Systems more efficiently and effectively.



For nearly 20 years, NI vision software has provided a comprehensive library of imaging functions to help you solve a wide range of image acquisition and processing applications. NI Compact Vision Systems are either programmed with LabVIEW graphical system design software using the NI Vision Development Module or configured with easy-to-use NI Vision Builder for Automated Inspection (AI). Both packages help you achieve the following:

  • Take advantage of hundreds of image processing algorithms
  • Make decisions based on multiple inspection results
  • View results through customizable deployment interfaces
  • Communicate results using I/O and industrial communication protocols


Figure 3. (a) Vision Builder for AI Configuration Interface

(b) LabVIEW Project Explorer, Front Panel, and Block Diagram for Vision Application

National Instruments uses the same programming software (Vision Development Module) and configuration software (Vision Builder AI) across the entire NI vision hardware portfolio. So after learning just one set of vision software, you can easily reduce time and cost to maintain your systems or build new applications while enjoying the freedom to choose the suitable hardware for each application, be it a PC, an NI Embedded Vision System, NI Compact Vision System, or NI Smart Camera. All NI vision software comes with NI Vision Acquisition Software, a collection of drivers for IEEE 1394, GigE Vision, and USB3 Vision cameras that scales to support a larger range of camera types for use with other NI vision hardware.


Figure 4. NI vision software works with all NI vision hardware.


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