GenICam is a generic programming interface for machine vision (industrial) cameras. The goal of the standard is to decouple industrial camera interface technology (such as GigE Vision, USB3 Vision, CoaXPress, or Camera Link) from the user application programming interface (API). GenICam is administered by the European Machine Vision Association (EMVA). The work on the standard began in 2003 and the first module in GenICam, i.e., GenApi, was ratified in 2006 whereas the final module, i.e., GenTL was ratified in 2008.
Because many companies were involved in drafting the GenICam standard, and because of the potential benefits it seemed to offer, some camera manufacturers have already started to use GenICam in their products. However, many who helped develop the standard still use a proprietary SDK. For instance, FLIR uses the Spinnaker SDK (https://www.ptgrey.com/spinnaker-sdk).
GenICam consists of three modules to help to solve the main tasks in the machine vision field in a generic way. These modules are:
- GenApi: Using an XML description file, this is used to configure the camera and details how to access and control cameras;
- Standard Feature Naming Convention (SFNC): This is the recommended names and types for common features in cameras to promote interoperability;
- GenTL: This is the transport layer interface for enumerating cameras, grabbing images from the camera, and moving them to the user application.
GenICam provides supports for five basic functions:
- Configuring the camera—This function could support a range of camera features such as frame size, acquisition speed, pixel format, gain, image offset, etc.
- Grabbing images—This function will create access channels between the camera and the user interface and initiates receiving images
- Graphical user interface—This function enables the user GUI interface to seamlessly talk to the camera(s)
- Transmitting extra data—This function enables cameras to send extra data on top of the image data. Typical examples could be histogram information, time stamp, area of interest in the frame, etc.
- Delivering events—This function enables cameras to talk to the application through an event channel.