OpenMV fills the niche of having a small camera connected to a microcontroller whilst having the whole thing be accessible and easy to use. The ARM microcontroller on the board is the powerful STM32F427 running at 180MHz. Thankfully the dark and scary world of bare bones arm programming has been abstracted out to the nicer and much less traumatizing Micro Python. This means you can start taking images, detecting faces, tracking markers, detecting blobs and all of that good stuff in no time at all.
OpenMV comes with its own IDE which has built in Micro Python examples. The best part about using Python is you can easily modify the examples to suit your needs. If you have never used Python before, good news, it’s amazing, and has a shallow learning curve for getting started. There is a great and free Codeacademy course to get you started.
If you are interested in digging down deeper into how this project was put together, the whole thing is documented over on Hackaday.io. Amazingly, the entire board has a Bill of Materials (BOM) of only $15 USD. For a tiny board that can do so much that really is surprisingly cheap. Of course to buy one pre-made costs more but seeing as the designs are all open source it is nice to support those hardware designers who give you the option of making it yourself.