What Is Signal-to-Noise Ratio and Why Does It Matter in embedded vision?

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What Is Signal-to-Noise Ratio and Why Does It Matter in embedded vision

Embedded vision systems are becoming increasingly popular in various industries, from healthcare and automotive to security and robotics. These systems use cameras and sensors to capture images and video, process the data, and provide real-time insights and responses. However, one crucial factor that can affect the accuracy, reliability, and performance of embedded vision is the signal-to-noise ratio. In this article, we’ll explore what signal-to-noise ratio is, why it matters in embedded vision, and how to improve it for better results.

What is Signal-to-Noise Ratio?

Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is a measure of the strength or quality of a signal relative to the amount of noise present in the same signal. In other words, SNR compares the useful or relevant information (signal) in a system to the unwanted or irrelevant information (noise) that can interfere with the signal. SNR is expressed in decibels (dB), which is a logarithmic scale that compares two values of power or amplitude.

In embedded vision, the signal is the image or video data captured by the camera or sensor, which contains the useful information that the system needs to process and analyze. The noise can come from various sources, such as electromagnetic interference, thermal noise, shot noise, quantization noise, or even external factors like lighting and vibrations. The noise can distort, degrade, or mask the signal, reducing its accuracy and reliability.

Calculation of Signal-to-Noise Ratio

To calculate SNR in embedded vision, you can use the following formula:

SNR = 20 * log10 (Signal Amplitude / Noise Amplitude)

The signal amplitude is the strength or intensity of the image or video data, while the noise amplitude is the strength or intensity of the noise that affects the data. The result is expressed in decibels, which indicates the ratio of the signal power to the noise power.

Why does Signal-to-Noise Ratio matter in Embedded Vision?

SNR matters in embedded vision because it can affect the quality, accuracy, and reliability of the data that the system captures, processes, and analyzes. Here are some reasons why SNR matters:

Impact of Noise on Embedded Vision

Noise can introduce various artifacts and errors in the image or video data, such as blur, distortion, noise grain, color shifts, and pixelation. These artifacts can reduce the visual quality of the data, making it harder for the system to extract meaningful information from it. Moreover, noise can also increase the data size and bandwidth requirements, as more data needs to be transmitted and stored to compensate for the noise.

Effects of Low Signal-to-Noise Ratio in Embedded Vision

A low SNR in embedded vision can result in several negative effects, such as:

  • Reduced dynamic range: The dynamic range is the ratio between the brightest and darkest parts of an image or video. A low SNR can compress the dynamic range, making it harder to distinguish between different levels of brightness or contrast.
  • Increased noise level: A low SNR can amplify the noise level, making it harder to filter or remove the noise without losing useful information.
  • Reduced resolution: A low SNR can reduce the resolution or sharpness of the image or video, making it harder to detect details or edges.
  • Reduced accuracy: A low SNR can reduce the accuracy of the system’s detection, recognition, or tracking algorithms, leading to false positives or false negatives.
  • Benefits of High Signal-to-Noise Ratio in Embedded Vision

A high SNR in embedded vision can provide several benefits, such as:

  • Improved visual quality: A high SNR can reduce or eliminate the noise artifacts, resulting in a clearer, sharper, and more accurate image or video data.
  • Increased dynamic range: A high SNR can increase the dynamic range, allowing the system to capture more details and nuances in the data.
  • Improved low-light performance: A high SNR can enable the system to capture and process data in low-light or high-contrast environments, where noise can be a significant challenge.
  • Improved algorithm performance: A high SNR can improve the accuracy and reliability of the system’s algorithms, such as object detection, segmentation, classification, and tracking.

signal-to-noise ratio

How to Improve Signal-to-Noise Ratio in Embedded Vision

To improve SNR in embedded vision, you can use various techniques and strategies that focus on reducing noise or improving the signal quality. Here are some examples:

Techniques for Reducing Noise

  1. Use high-quality sensors and cameras that have low noise levels and high sensitivity.
  2. Optimize the lighting conditions to minimize the impact of external factors such as reflections, shadows, or glare.
  3. Apply noise reduction filters or algorithms that can reduce or remove noise while preserving useful information.
  4. Shield the system from electromagnetic interference or other sources of noise.
  5. Improving Signal Quality.
  6. Use high-resolution sensors and cameras that can capture more details and information in the data.
  7. Use advanced imaging technologies such as HDR (High Dynamic Range), multispectral, or polarimetric imaging to capture more accurate and comprehensive data.
  8. Optimize the exposure time, aperture, and other camera settings to capture the optimal amount of light and reduce noise.
  9. Use image enhancement techniques such as contrast stretching, sharpening, or color correction to improve the visual quality of the data.
  10. Combining Techniques to Improve Signal-to-Noise Ratio


Signal-to-noise ratio is a critical factor in embedded vision systems that can affect the quality, accuracy, and reliability of the data that the system captures, processes, and analyzes. By understanding what SNR is, why it matters, and how to improve it, you can optimize your embedded vision system’s performance and achieve better results in various applications. Whether you’re working on autonomous vehicles, surveillance systems, medical imaging, or industrial inspection, SNR can make a significant difference in the success of your project. Therefore, it’s essential to invest in high-quality sensors, cameras, and algorithms that can provide high SNR and adapt to different noise levels and conditions.

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