The glittering prize

Your host recognizes machine-vision innovation, but no plaques or golf clubs are given.

Oct 1st, 2005
Th 0510vsd Andywilson

Your host recognizes machine-vision innovation, but no plaques or golf clubs are given.

By Andy Wilson, Editor

Click here to enlarge image

Not one month goes by, it seems, without some television network deciding to stage its annual “awards” event. Years ago, there was just one event-the Oscars-and everyone watched the show until the final curtain to see who the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Hollywood, CA, USA; www.oscar.com) had voted the Best Picture of the Year.

Over the years, this format has been adopted by so many television networks that we have a plethora of awards shows that cover fashion, music, and theatre. Those networks without the money or talent to host their own shows televise any show they can. And the reason is very simple. It all makes for some inexpensive television.

Apart from being easy to produce, these shows are also a public-relations person’s dream come true. Here’s the chance to get their personality, product, or motion picture some free global publicity. It doesn’t really matter if the product, person, or thing wins the award. “Just being nominated” is all that matters.

Nowadays, it seems, even the computer trade press wants some of this action. Numerous publications, both in the USA and overseas, hold their own product- or solution-of-the-year events that are supposed to provide “added value” for the readers. Unfortunately, however, more sinister motives may be lurking in the minds of some of the publishers of these magazines.

Rather than have the readers vote on what they think are milestone events in any year, this task is often left to the publisher. On one magazine I worked for, the publisher decided that all the important products were those from companies that advertised in the magazine. And the readers were left to choose from those products to decide the final “product of the year.” To make matters worse, this publisher decided to invite all the nominees (that is, advertisers) to a big bash where the awards were to be handed out by a radio personality.

Of course, everyone won a prize (and left in a particularly happy mood). But, the “awards” issue of the magazine was absolutely appalling. It was filled with pictures of marketing managers looking rather merry holding “prizes” and shaking hands with the publisher. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for handing out prizes to deserving people. But in today’s fast-paced, commercially oriented world, it seems that those who have really developed something novel rarely gather such praise.

In the world of machine vision and image processing, this problem is exacerbated by the plethora of me-too products that blur the landscape. So, this month, I’m going to put things right. Rather than take any advice from my boss, the publisher, our sales team, or anyone in the industry, I’m going to tell you which companies I think have developed something really special over the last 12 months. And you can find all of these on our Web site.

You may not agree, especially if you are a marketing manager who expected at least a nomination, a free dinner, a prize, or a golf club. Because, you see, there are no glittering prizes associated with my awards. Only the knowledge that if you are listed, you can tell all your friends, colleagues, and customers that some journalist printed your company’s name in a magazine.


Coherency-based stereo adds new dimension
3D Image Processing
Augsburg, Germany

Wavefront-coded imaging enhances vision
CDM Optics
Boulder, CO, USA

Tunable filters check defects in apples
CRI
Woburn, MA, USA

Video enhancement targets aerospace
Dmist Technologies
Manchester, UK

Vision-guided robots speed medical-device packaging
Fresenius Kabi
Bad Homburg, Germany

Pixel shifting increases microscopy resolution
Lumenera
Ottawa, ON, Canada

Dual-color IR camera debuts
QmagiQ
Nashua, NH, USA

System embeds laser, camera, and computer
SICK
Minneapolis, MN, USA

Vision and neural nets inspect disk platters
Sightech
San Jose, CA, USA

Liquid lenses focus without mechanical motion
Varioptic
Lyon, France

More in Boards & Software