The organization of the hardware and software as well as the application of a remotely operated vision system are all described. The system enables a vision engineer, working a long way from the site of a proposed installation, to experiment with a prototyping image-acquisition subsystem that is already in situ. Once suitable images have been obtained, he then designs a suitable image processing algorithm. In this way, the vision engineer is able to construct a prototype vision system that can be used to test the algorithm in a realistic operating environment, collect performance statistics and possibly refine the algorithm in light of the experience gained. The objective of this research is to streamline the design and prototyping phases for online factory-floor inspection systems, so that the optimum benefit can be obtained from the efforts of a skilled vision engineer.