As reluctant as I am to appear as though I’m fanning the flames of the COVID-19 news frenzy, I find myself unable to avoid the topic again in this issue. It is my hopes, though, that you find our coronavirus-related coverage interesting.
First, in an article on page 8, we take a deep dive into the potential for machine vision and vision-guided robotics in the restaurant industry. More than perhaps any other industry, restaurants have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. While some limit operations to only takeout, others have shut down entirely, and some even for good. This article asks several experts their opinions on the types of tasks and restaurants in which robots could be deployed, and the specific types of technologies that would prove most beneficial in these settings. This include input from several machine vision and robotics experts from around the globe, a high-end chef, and even a robotics company developing autonomous, intelligent robots that are deployed in fast casual restaurants today.
Another related article on page 12 takes a look at the potential for thermal cameras to detect elevated body temperatures in an effort to identify potentially sick people. In addition to existing companies and products, thermal camera solutions have popped up like mushrooms as demands soar. Many limitations exist for using thermal cameras to take accurate optical temperature measurements though, and this article from MoviTHERM President and CEO Markus Tarin explains what these are, and the research that companies should do prior to buying thermal cameras for such purposes.
The cover story article on page 6 deals with the shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) such as N95 respirators in healthcare facilities in America. To address this shortage, a team of researchers from Kentucky have developed a mobile system that uses 3D scanners to take individual scans of a person’s face and a 3D printer to create a custom component for the respirator. The potential exists, according to one of the researchers, to have as many as 40 different scanning centers operational, which enables the acquisition of 3D data on thousands of people per day.
Our product focus article (page 26) takes a look at some of the latest image sensors available on the market today that specifically target 3D imaging. More specifically, the article details several Time of Flight sensors, ranging from just 32 pixels to 1.3 MPixels in size. Then on page 15, we have an interesting article from Ara Nefian of the NASA Ames Research center that details the design of a virtual bumper used to detect hazards for planetary surface navigation.
We have numerous other articles in the issue, covering topics like life science research, deep learning, 3D robotics, infrared imaging, and even a hobbyist system that tracks items that people touch to flag them for future cleaning to prevent the spread of disease. We hope this mix of content serves you well, but more importantly, we hope you stay healthy, happy, and safe.