Social distancing, along with local and national government guidelines and restrictions related to COVID-19 have changed our way of life. Where I live locally, residents are encouraged to wear a face mask whenever they leave the house, and a 9 PM to 6 AM curfew has been put in place. One city over, residents are required to a wear a house when outside of the house. It’s hard to read any news, go on LinkedIn, or watch any television and not see something related to COVID-19.
These are strange times we are living in. At the time I am writing this, Easter was yesterday. We got the chance to meet up with family, but we all stood outside and said hello to each other from a distance. We still dressed our kids up in their Easter outfits though, so everyone could see them, as we do our best to maintain a sense of normalcy.
COVID-19 is also impacting businesses in numerous ways. In some ways, the implications are devastating, while other industries or markets thrive. Industries that depend on machine vision technology are no different. Manufacturing for medical/pharmaceutical products (medicine, ventilators, masks, respirators, gloves) and cleaning/household products (sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, toilet paper, food and beverages, are just a few examples of areas that should remain busy.
Machine vision technology is still vitally important for many. In fact, several imaging technologies are currently in use in the direct fight against COVID-19. An article in this issue details the use of 3D-vision-guided robots deployed in Chinese hospitals that help enforce social distancing measures. These robots perform supply transportation, custodial, and guiding tasks in hospitals, allowing people to keep a distance from one another and prevent transmission of the virus.
Another article describes the development of an open-source convolutional neural network (CNN) trained on a dataset of nearly 18,000 images tailored for the detection of COVID-19 cases from chest radiography images. Initial CNN results have proved quite accurate, and the team hopes that researchers and citizen data scientists will build upon the promising results to accelerate the development of highly accurate, practical deep learning solutions for detecting COVID-19 cases from such images and accelerate treatment of those who need it most.
On the Vision Systems Design website, we’ve also put together a few articles related to COVID-19. Here (https://bit.ly/VSD-CVD19), we highlight further uses of machine vision and imaging technology in the COVID-19 fight. This article (https://bit.ly/VSD-CVD19-2) pulls together a list of machine vision companies’ responses to how COVID-19 may impact business. The news is positive, as most companies seem to be pressing on and do not expect interruptions on operations or supply chain.
Hopefully this is the case for as many of you as possible. This pandemic has changed everyone’s lives, perhaps permanently. While it may be hard not to dwell on all the negative and potentially even tragic aspects it brings, there are positives to focus on too. I hope you’ve all found your own silver linings.