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Setting Up Image Acquisition Hardware


To acquire image data, you must perform the setup required by your particular image acquisition device. In a typical image acquisition setup, an image acquisition device, such as a camera, is connected to a computer via an image acquisition board, such as a frame grabber, or via a Universal Serial Bus (USB) or IEEE® 1394 (FireWire) port. The setup required varies with the type of device.

After installing and configuring your image acquisition hardware, start MATLAB® on your computer by double-clicking the icon on your desktop. You do not need to perform any special configuration of MATLAB to acquire data.


With previous versions of the Image Acquisition Toolbox™, the files for all of the adaptors were included in your installation. Starting with version R2014a, each adaptor is available separately through support packages. In order to use the Image Acquisition Toolbox, you must install the adaptor that your camera uses. See Image Acquisition Support Packages for Hardware Adaptors for information about installing the adaptors using MATLAB Add-Ons.

Setting Up Frame Grabbers

For frame grabbers, also known as imaging boards, setup typically involves the following tasks:

  • Installing the frame grabber in your computer

  • Installing any software drivers required by the frame grabber. These are supplied by the device vendor.

  • Connecting the camera, or other image acquisition device, to a connector on the frame grabber

  • Verifying that the camera is working properly by running the application software that came with the frame grabber and viewing a live video stream

Setting Up Generic Windows Video Acquisition Devices

IEEE 1394 (FireWire) and generic Windows® video acquisition devices that use Windows Driver Model (WDM) or Video for Windows (VFW) device drivers typically require less setup. Plug the device into the USB or IEEE 1394 (FireWire) port on your computer and install the device driver provided by the vendor.

Setting Up DCAM Devices

If you intend to access a DCAM-compliant IEEE 1394 (FireWire) camera, you must install and configure the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) DCAM driver. The toolbox is not compatible with any other vendor-supplied driver, even if the driver is DCAM compliant. See Installing the CMU DCAM Driver on Windows for more information.

Resetting Your Image Acquisition Hardware

To return MATLAB and your image acquisition hardware to a known state, where no image acquisition objects exist and the hardware is not configured, use the imaqreset function.

If you connect another image acquisition device to your system after MATLAB is started, you can use imaqreset to make the toolbox aware of the new hardware.

A Note About Frame Rates and Processing Speed

The frame rate describes how fast an image acquisition device provides data, typically measured as frames per second.

Devices that support industry-standard video formats must provide frames at the rate specified by the standard. For RS170 and NTSC, the standard dictates a frame rate of 30 frames per second (30 Hz). The CCIR and PAL standards define a frame rate of 25 Hz. Nonstandard devices can be configured to operate at higher rates. Generic Windows image acquisition devices, such as webcams, might support many different frame rates. Depending on the device being used, the frame rate might be configurable using a device-specific property of the image acquisition object.

The rate at which the Image Acquisition Toolbox software can process images depends on the processor speed, the complexity of the processing algorithm, and the frame rate. Given a fast processor, a simple algorithm, and a frame rate tuned to the acquisition setup, the Image Acquisition Toolbox software can process data as it comes in.

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