How Ethernet cameras give power of sight to embedded vision applications

21st September 2023
Kristian McCann

Ethernet cameras use standardised communication protocols to transmit image data across networks. This ensures imaging fidelity, efficient data transfer, and more interoperability. See how Ethernet cameras actually work, know their top features, dig into their use cases, and more.

Ethernet cameras leverage standardised communication protocols, such as TCP/IP and UDP, to transmit image data across networks. Unlike traditional coaxial-connected cameras that leverage analogue signal transmission, these cameras digitise and packetise image data for seamless network transmission. Since the data can be accessed and processed by any device within the connected network, it ensures image fidelity while offering enhanced interoperability,

Role of Ethernet cameras in embedded vision technology

Ethernet cameras are important in embedded vision applications since they are more advanced than their analogue predecessors. These cameras facilitate efficient data transfer, integrated system functionalities, and streamlined infrastructure. Their impact can be summarised as given below:

Simplified infrastructure: The need for separate power cables is eliminated with Ethernet cameras, thanks to Power over Ethernet (PoE) capabilities. It reduces the clutter and complexity of wiring, especially in large embedded vision systems.

Scalability: Ethernet cameras can be easily added to existing networks, making it convenient for applications to scale as requirements grow.

Remote accessibility: These cameras can be accessed and controlled remotely over a network, providing flexibility in monitoring and adjustments.

High bandwidth: Ethernet cameras provide high bandwidth connections, supporting up to 10GiGE and ensuring there will be no issue in transferring uncompressed data.

How do Ethernet cameras work?

Fundamentally, Ethernet cameras operate on the known principle as their counterparts. CMOS sensors capture high-resolution images and videos under various lighting conditions. However, immediately after capturing visual data, the Ethernet camera operates differently.

The captured image or video data is segmented and organised into data packets. This packetisation is crucial. Each packet can carry specific data and meta information, such as source, destination, and sequence details. This structure ensures that the data can be correctly sequenced and interpreted.

As their name suggests, Ethernet cameras utilise standard network protocols for data transmission, such as Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP).

Top use cases of Ethernet cameras


Ethernet cameras, with their high bandwidth capabilities and reliable connectivity, are an integral part of business-critical industrial applications. In surround-view systems, they offer a comprehensive 360-degree perspective, capturing key details with minimal latency and enabling machinery operators to rapidly respond to environmental changes.

In inspection and safety devices, these cameras offer precision imaging and fast data transmission rates, ensuring fast detection of product anomalies and potential malfunctions. They help deliver real-time feedback with high-resolution imaging to push for optimal operations a safer industrial setting.


Ethernet cameras ensure superior data transmission rates and reliable connectivity, which has made them the backbone of modern retail solutions. For example, these cameras power autonomous shopping systems to effortlessly track product interactions, registering items as customers select them and consequently, eliminating traditional checkout processes.

Ethernet cameras are also used in shelf monitoring systems, providing high-resolution images to create a real-time feedback mechanism that allows for immediate inventory assessment. Hence, retailers can ensure that stock levels are maintained and discrepancies are rapidly addressed.


Ethernet cameras, with consistent high-speed data transmission and sharp imaging capabilities, have transformed medical applications, especially remote patient monitoring systems. These cameras are placed near the patient, providing clinicians with high-resolution, real-time imaging data.

It allows for accurate assessments of patient conditions and timely interventions. Their capability to transmit uninterrupted, clear imagery ensures that vital signs, wound healing, and even patient movements are monitored precisely. Hence, this leads to informed medical decision-making and improves overall patient care delivery.

Traffic management:

Ethernet cameras bring robust data transmission and reliable connectivity capabilities to the table for many smart city applications. In traffic management systems, for instance, Ethernet cameras enable high-resolution, real-time imaging - making it easy to dynamically adjust to traffic signals, detect congestion patterns, and identify irregular incidents as quickly as possible.

Their continuous data flow and detailed imaging ensure that traffic flows remain optimised. This goes a long way to reduce congestion and boost roadway safety across smart cities.

Must-have features of Ethernet cameras

Power over Ethernet (PoE)

Power over Ethernet, commonly known as PoE, allows devices to receive power and data over a single Ethernet cable. This methodology utilises specialised adapters or switches to send a combined signal over Cat5e or Cat6 cables. Integrating PoE into Ethernet cameras significantly reduces installation complexities and costs, as there's no longer a need for separate power and data cables. Furthermore, PoE standards, like IEEE 802.3af/at, dictate the power delivery mechanisms ensuring safe operation and efficient power management.

High-resolution imaging

Ethernet cameras employ advanced CMOS or CCD sensors and can capture images upwards of 4K (3840×2160 pixels) or even 8K resolutions. Such granular detail is essential for specific vision tasks, including facial recognition, number plate detection, and microscopic imaging.

Onboard image processing

Ethernet cameras are equipped with embedded processors or FPGAs (Field-Programmable Gate Arrays). These onboard computing units enable real-time image analysis, edge processing, and data compression, all within the camera's hardware envelope. This minimises latency and reduces the reliance on external systems for initial image processing tasks. Therefore, it improves the entire embedded vision device's performance.

Low latency

Low latency is crucial for Ethernet cameras due to the immediate data transfer requirements of many embedded vision applications. When capturing high-resolution images or videos, the minimal delay ensures that systems can process and respond to visual information in real time. It becomes critical where quick action based on camera input is required, such as robotic navigation, machine vision inspection, and high-speed motion capture. With the capacity to support up to 10GiGE, Ethernet cameras minimise data transfer lag and provide steady performance.

Powerful security protocols

Ethernet cameras tend to face potential vulnerability to cyber-attacks as they connect to networks. However, these cameras incorporate security features such as end-to-end encryption protocols, secure boot processes, and regular firmware updates to mitigate such risks. It goes a long way to ensure that data streams remain confidential and unauthorised access attempts are promptly detected and avoided.

Ethernet cameras offered by e-con Systems

e-con Systems, with 20+ years of experience, has designed, developed, and manufactured Ethernet cameras like the RouteCAM_CU20 - a 2MP GigE camera based on the 1/2.8″ Sony STARVIS IMX462 sensor. Its GigE interface of this camera enables the transfer of video data with a maximum cable length of up to 100m. As an ONVIF-supported camera, it can reliably send images and control data over a wired LAN network.

RouteCAM_CU20 is also equipped with the HDR (High Dynamic Range) feature to deliver high-quality images in difficult lighting conditions. Other key features include:

Superior low-light performance

NIR sensitivity

In-built ISP with auto white balance and auto exposure functions

It can be a valuable camera solution for Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), smart traffic devices, autonomous shopping systems, farming robots, patient monitoring applications, and more.

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