A Solid State plc group company

Providing advanced imaging products, embedded systems and solutions

Engineer standing in front of a company banner

Spotlight on our experts: Developing cutting-edge imaging solutions

February 29, 2024

We’re about to enter a new financial year with some exciting new products soon to be launched and even stronger collaboration with our sister company, Steatite, enabling us to widen our embedded systems capabilities. We spoke with our Head of Hardware, Ben, to find out more about delivering our ambitious plans in 2024.

Can you tell us more about what your role entails?

As the Head of Hardware, my primary responsibility is overseeing the design, development and production of the electronics at the heart of cutting-edge computer vision systems. This includes designing frame grabbers, autofocus-zoom cameras, interface boards and custom carrier boards for embedded systems used across various applications including medical, defense, transport, and scientific sectors.

On a daily basis, I collaborate closely with our engineering and research teams to understand the requirements and specifications for our imaging products. From there, I lead the design process, ensuring that the hardware components meet the necessary performance, reliability, and compatibility standards. This often involves intricate circuit design, PCB layout optimization, and thorough testing to guarantee functionality under challenging operating conditions. Additionally, staying up to date with the latest advancements in hardware technology and industry trends is crucial to ensure that our products remain innovative and competitive.

Given your extensive previous experience in medical imaging, how have you applied these skills to different projects?

Designing products in the medical sector means there is absolutely no room for error in the systems I’ve been involved with. In my work, only the very best will do and everything has to be meticulously designed, accurately produced and thoroughly tested. I’ve developed a mindset which seeks excellence in every project and this culture is ingrained in Active Silicon which is one reason I joined the team 18 months ago.

What new products are you working on at the moment?

We’re about to launch our latest CoaXPress frame grabbers which include a single connection and dual connection CXP-12 board. Supporting the fastest data transmission available on coax cables, these acquisition cards supplement our quad connection board with lower-power and more cost-effective alternatives for a wider range of applications.

2024 will also see our CoaXPress-over-Fiber frame grabber come to market. The frame grabber can transmit high volumes of data over distances of hundreds or even thousands of meters without degradation in signal quality. This is ideal for applications where cameras are located remotely from the processing unit, such as in large-scale manufacturing facilities or expansive medical imaging suites.

We will also be launching an LVDS to MIPI-CSI2 camera interface board for our Harrier range of AF-Zoom cameras. MIPI-CSI2 interfaces are widely supported in many consumer electronics and embedded systems, providing compatibility and interoperability with a variety of devices and platforms. This makes it easier to integrate a range of LVDS block cameras into existing systems, reducing development time and costs while enabling rapid capture and transmission of image data.

Have you been involved in any interesting projects with the wider Steatite group?

We’ve worked closely with the Steatite Computing team on a couple of projects as our embedded design skills and their custom computer capabilities have a natural synergy. Together, we’ve been able to win a contract for a complex transport application which required our very specific imaging expertise along with their rugged housing and industry compliance skills. We’re also currently working on a proposal for an ROV application on a large scale – weighing tons not kilos! It’s definitely been beneficial to be able to draw on each other’s particular skillsets to create really unique solutions.

We can also collaborate with the Battery business unit to offer power and imaging solutions for UAVs. Our Harrier AF-Zoom cameras and their custom UAV batteries are both compact, versatile and powerful enough for a wide variety of commercial, industrial and military drones.

What makes Active Silicon stand out from other companies you have worked at?

Active Silicon has one of the best company cultures I have ever known, with everyone keen to make a great product and facing any challenges very much as a team.

One of the most impressive things is the level of production testing applied to each and every product made – “how do we test it” is the second question asked in the product brief (after what is it). This focus on quality is reflected in the rigorous design process we follow.

The other great thing is the range of products we make which require us to innovate every time and constantly strive to not only improve previous designs but advance our knowledge with each product.

Sounds like you’ll be busy! What do you do to relax?

I have a young son who keeps me busy, and an extensive library of audio books to work through in quieter times. And of course, like any engineer, I can while away hours at home tinkering with electronics and “fixing” things – sometimes they even needed fixing in the first place! As many of my friends also have small children seeing them in person is harder but we still get together online and play games regularly.

Find out more about what our team of experts get up to, and how our innovative imaging products are driving industry, healthcare and more.