Computer Vision is a very popular application for which BeagleBoard-xM is used around the world. And OpenCV is synonymous with Computer Vision among the users.

OpenCV-2.3.1 is the latest version out there but the Ubuntu repositories have OpenCV-2.1 as the latest available version. Needless to say, our micro-SD card with Ubuntu 11.04 for OMAP came with OpenCV-2.1 pre-installed. And, we got ripped off Rs. 1200 by Tenet Technetronics, Bengaluru. It is OK. After all, human beings learn from experience.

For the development on BeagleBoard-xM using Ubuntu 11.04 for OMAP, we noticed a number of basic software deficiencies. The very basic of software did not come pre-installed. Further reading led us to realize that this was purposefully done as they wanted users to customize their install and not crowd the already low-on-space SD card.

Following is the list of software we installed for vision application development using OpenCV on BB-xM running Ubuntu 11.04 for OMAP.

1) vim – Ubuntu came with ‘gedit’ installed by default. But, its performance was quite sluggish. BB-xM for Ubuntu uses 800 MHz (AND NOT 1 GHz as the processor speed). We needed a light editor to quickly put in the changes. We were not looking for a from-the-ground development IDE as the source file was to be sent to the BeagleBoard-xM from the host using an SSH ethernet connection. My previous experience with Python (wxPython to be precise) on Vim led us to go for it. And, it has been performing well so far.

To install: sudo apt-get install vim

2) evince – There was no pdf reader or document viewer installed by default on Ubuntu for OMAP. And, we needed one. So, after google-ing a bit, we decided to go for evince – the default document viewer installed in the desktop versions of Ubuntu. It is light-weight and was recommended by a number of BB and BB-xM users online. The search is painfully slow. But, it does the job well without swamping the processor.

 To install: sudo apt-get install evince

3) eog – Eye of GNOME is the default image-viewer in Ubuntu. It is light-weight and easy to use. And, our work on Computer Vision meant that we had to regularly open and analyze images – sometimes on-the-fly. Eye of GNOME does the task perfectly well.

To install: sudo apt-get install eog

4) vlc – Again, working on Computer Vision means you will need a video player to view the avi you just created by threading together the images. We all have been using vlc for ages and we had no doubts in going for it again. We also played a video from ‘Madagascar’ to see if there are any rendering problems. Well….no problems. BTW, vlc also has an operation mode without the front-end UI. Now, isn’t that just wonderful for our purpose?! If anyone has any alternative suggestions – please let me know!

 To install: sudo apt-get install vlc

5) luvcview – So, we wanted to check the image quality of our cameras available so that we can select the suitable one. We needed a light-weight software to test the camera. We used a simple script on OpenCV to display captured images on-the-fly. But, then we needed to alter a few parameters like HSV values, alpha, exposure etc. and see which one performed well. We thought that writing a script for that would be like re-inventing the wheel. A small google search later, we ended up with luvcview and cheese. And, a small trial later, luvcview was selected. Cheese was simply slow. Plus, we did not need the funny effects – we needed direct access to properties which luvcview gave.

To install: sudo apt-get install luvcview

6) midori – We wanted to browse the internet on BB-xM to solve a GPIO related problem. Plus, there was this ‘cool’ factor with accessing internet by using only a simple board. Also, we wanted to evaluate the board’s ability to publish data to the internet. We guessed that there has to be a light-weight browser for OMAP since there were so many specialized software for this platform. A few minutes later, we came across midori and its features. Most of the people recommended either midori or google chrome. We went with midori as it gave a faster performance than chrome.

To install: sudo apt-get install midori