BitSim and NOW Electronics joins forces

The embedded system developers BitSim and NOW Electronics, with offices in Stockholm and Växjö, will merge their operation to form BitSim NOW with 40 employees and 15 sub-contractors.

NOW Electronics, was established 1985 and BitSim 2000. Both companies work with electronics development, sensor technology, embedded computing, machine vision machine learning and accelerated Imaging.

“Our companies complement each other in terms of market position and competence, where we will get a substantial increase in the FPGA area,” says Philip Nyströmer, CEO of NOW Electronics and the new merged company BitSim NOW. “Together, we are now equipped to take on larger and broader assignments in our new premises”.

“We are looking forward to working with NOW Electronics’ talented developers and thereby increasing our activities in image processing and sensor technology” says Anders Sivard, CEO of BitSim AB.

Electronics is becoming strategic in more and more markets. Through this merger, it will be possible to meet a larger demand for built-in, sensor-centered, and interconnected electronics systems, increasingly important for the whole industry.


For more information, contact Philip Nyströmer, +46-72-0798523

Adapter Cards and Interfaces

BitSim has initiated an open connector standard for camera modules: OMIPICON. OMIPICON stands for Open MIPI CONnect and is suitable for prototypes or production of small/medium-sized quantities.

The idea behind this is to save time and money when developing hardware with camera sensors. Neither the MIPI CSI-2 standard nor the MIPI DSI standard define a specific connector which means that suppliers of sensor modules use their own connectors, incompatible with others. You then need custom designs.

In addition, most available sensor connectors today are not suited  for repeated inserts and removals. When debugging prototypes with these sensors, quite often these connector are only capable to withstand a few connections and disconnections. You end up spending too much time on connector issues.

With OMIPICON, there is only need for one FMC-adapter board and one U96 adapter board. And one adapter board per sensor. You then don’t need to insert and remove the adapter board’s connector.

adapter card camera modules
adapter card for contacting camera modules

camera moduel


Testing our latest product

Usually we at BitSim help create things that are physically small, like PCBs and FPGA configuration. If we have have to use a ruler longer than 10cm we consider something to be ”large”. Not any more. Last October we performed a validation test of our latest product, and that is quite a bit bigger.

The product allows synchronous measurements to be taken over a long distance. All sensors, in this case hydrophones, can be daisy-chained. For the prototype we had a cable of 500m between the controlling electronics and the first “node” that takes the measurements from the hydrophones and sends the data to the controlling node. After that we had 20 meters between the remaining nodes. Well that was the idea, we still needed to prove that it works.

To to that we, together with partners from the Uppsala University, went to test the system. Remember that we are used to small products? This one was so big, it needed to be transported on a trailer. Since we had assembled the system in Uppsala we went there to help packing and loading the trailer. After reading the manual of the trailer a few times and some trial-and-error we got the system on the trailer and were ready to go.

Car in front of the trailer with the downhole measurement system
Everything is ready for the long drive to Ludvika

Continue reading “Testing our latest product”

12 HD camera sensors streamed 14 Gigabit/s to a PC

The design consists of 2 cards, each with an FPGA. Each FPGA receives 6 1280 x 800 HD camera sensors 120 frames per second.

Each FPGA streams the 6 channels to a 10Gb IP UDP Ethernet block (Our own IP block) directly to a PC. Everything is done in pure HW, none of the video flow is handled by the ARM CPU in the PGA in this version. Each 10Gb Ethernet cable transfers 70% of full HW speed, i.e. 7 Gbps, at a total of 14 Gbps for the PC to receive and render.

Of course, FPGAs can also encode and compress incoming data to reduce image flow or process early.

6 Sensors
12 HD camera sensor streamed 14 Gigabit/s to PC

IR sensor interface

BitSim has developed a receiver for FLIR’s Video over SPI (VoSPI), an interface to enable streaming images from a Lepton Infrared camera directly to an FPGA-based image processing system. You can use it in your platforms like:

  • On Xilinx devices with our new customized IP.
  • On every SoC circuit with an ARM CPU and Python with our pure-software driver.
  • A Python interface which integrates the VoSPI IP in your PYNQ design.

VoSPI stands for “Video over Serial Peripheral Interface”. VoSPI protocol is designed to send out the video in a format that allows transmission over a SPI interface while requiring minimal software or hardware. The sensor acts as SPI slave and the hardware acts as SPI master and the video is streamed on MISO pin. The hardware system uses custom logic to receive and render the video. The sensor sends out bytes of pixels through packets and segments to form a frame of 160×120 resolution.

The development of this IP has been done on BitSim’s Python-based development platform, SpiderPig board. Utilizing this simple interface between the Logic fabric and the high-level Python environment, debug information and image analysis could be performed almost directly after a bitfile is generated. BitSim has developed tools for Thermal Imaging and specifically to integrate the FLIR Lepton sensor by using VoSPI.

Using this IP block, it is possible to attach a low cost FLIR Lepton IR sensor, which sends processed 16-bit data to an FPGA design. The IR sensor captures infrared radiation as input. The output is a uniform thermal image with temperature measurements throughout the image. This can be used in applications such as Mobile phones, Gesture recognition, Building automation, Thermal imaging and Night vision where detection of temperature values and high temperature scenes are necessary.

IR video over SPI
Thermal image of  a person holding a hot coffee captured by Lepton 3.5 IR sensor.

Camera Electronics experiences

BitSim develops electronics for product companies, focusing on Imaging and Edge Computing. We see a constant influx of new sensors, interfaces and key components. With the following few words we want to tell you what we think is interesting in the market, but also bring up experiences, difficulties and things to think about. And, of  course we would be happy to discuss your specific needs and solutions.

It can be really difficult to get sensors running with all configurations needed. Sometimes we find features that are not even documented. And the sensors often have hundreds of registers where most of them have to be configured in the correct way to get an image.

  • BitSim has developed a camera with Sony’s IMX290-sensor that has very good lighting properties, i.e. can handle difficult lighting conditions. It has 10/12-bit ADC, MIPI interface, resolution up to 1080p, up to 120 fps. Flipped sideways, the resolution becomes 1109×1945 pixels. There are also a couple of HDR variants available to enable further light enhancing functionalities.
  • FLIR’s Lepton is a relatively inexpensive IR sensor that can be used separately, or in conjunction with standard CMOS sensors to extract additional information from the image through so-called “image fusion”.
  • CCS. We at BitSim hope that sensor or module suppliers will adopt MIPI’s initiative CCS – Camera Command Set: The idea is to quickly get started with a sensor with its basic functionality without specific SW drivers. A typical command set can be handle things like resolution, frame rate and exposure time, but also more advanced features such as autofocus and single or multiple HDR.

Adapter card
This is often a factor making things in the development project more complex with extremely small connectors that easily break, or become loose with a bad connection.

  • We have developed a dozen different sensor adapter cards that fit development cards from Xilinx, NXP and Technexion etc. for rapid prototyping. It is a lot to think about before these small adapter cards work well, as there are usually different types of cables, connectors and sizes needed.


  • 4K Video BitSim has implemented 4K @ 60 Video, i.e. HDMI from an FPGA. In this project, we divided the camera into two physically separated parts, Front end (Camera sensor) and Back end (processing unit) with Aurora in between, i.e. Xilinx high-speed series protocol.
  • MIPI CSI-2 We have continued the development of our own camera interface IP, which now supports FPGAs with built-in D-PHY IOs (which has the advantage that no external resistance networks or Meticom circuitry are needed), e.g. a Xilinx UltraScale+ / MPSoC.  Now you can get 2.5Gb / s per lane!Processing (Platforms & Algorithms)
    One alternative for the processing of the image chain is a combined CPU and FPGA circuit, e.g. Zynq / MPSoC with the possibility to process in C / C ++ and VHDL.
  • We have worked with Python,  C / C++ and the open image library Open CV to adapt the contents of an image. With Xilinx Vision (HLS Video Library), it is also possible to use hardware accelerated OpenCV calls.
  • Another alternative is to process in a SoC circuit, i.e. with an ARM CPU, software and built-in fixed accelerators. NXP (formerly Freescale) has had great success with the i.MX6 family. The next generation, i.MX8, has been  available for a couple  of years. We have been working with the i.MX8 for a little more a year,  and we now experience that NXP’s libraries, documentation and forums are starting to become really useful.
  • We have a complete video chain, i.e. from glass-to-glass (sensor to screen), via MIPI CSI-2, V4L and Gstreamer with H.264 compression, via Ethernet to the screen.

Please contact us if you are interested or have questions!