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Recent technological advances are enabling a new generation of smart cameras that represent a quantum leap in sophistication. While today's digital cameras capture images, smart cameras capture high-level descriptions of the scene and analyze what they see. These devices could support a wide variety of applications including human and animal detection, surveillance, motion analysis, and facial identification. Video processing has an insatiable demand for real-time performance. Smart cameras leverage very large-scale integration to meet this need in a low-cost, low-power system with substantial memory. Moving well beyond pixel processing and compression, these VLSI systems run a wide range of algorithms to extract meaning from streaming video. Recently, Princeton University researchers developed a first-generation smart camera system that can detect people and analyze their movement in real time. Because they push the design space in so many dimensions, these smart cameras are a leading-edge application for embedded system research.