As we put 2018 in the rear view and look toward the new year ahead of us, we have a lot to be excited about in this market.
First, there is the overall health and trajectory of the market, which is trending upward. Now more than ever, machine vision thrives in terms of sales figures and global deployment. In 2017—per the VDMA—the German machine vision market saw record sales of $2.6 billion euros, a figure that represents 17.5% growth over the previous year, while the North American machine vision and imaging market saw financial transactions grow 14.6% over the previous year to $2.633 billion USD, according to the AIA.
Beyond that, there was plenty to be excited about at this past year’s VISION show in Stuttgart, where those walking the show floor got to see the latest from the biggest names in machine vision. Seeing the evolving, trending, and new products on display at the show provided a great glimpse into the current and future state of the marketplace, and in speaking with many folks at the show, most everyone seemed to have a positive outlook going forward.
So, what are you most excited about?
Well, the answer will vary person to person, but for me, the answer is artificial intelligence. This is a topic that is not only one of the most fascinating topics and technologies within our market, but one of the most fascinating—period. Sure, there is a lot of uncertainty and perhaps even fear surrounding the topic. Just ask Elon Musk, the real-life Tony Stark, who has warned us of an AI apocalypse. There are plenty of applications utilizing artificial intelligence that have already made their way into households worldwide, however.
Take the Google Home or Amazon Echo (or other Alexa devices), for example. While some may not love the idea of a smart home assistant that listens to everything you say and uses that data in various—and perhaps nebulous—ways, the convenience of these devices is undeniable. At home, my wife Laura and I have a near-3-year-old wild-child named Jacob who really got into all things “spooky” this past Halloween.
Some of his favorites included “The Monster Mash,” and “Thriller.” When he wants to hear these songs, he is already aware of the fact that this small, off-white device sitting on the mantle above the fireplace can make that happen.
In knowing this, he does often ask Google to play things for him. For most questions his little voice isn’t quite there yet in terms of being able to make that happen–for which I am grateful—but when he wants it, either my wife or I can simply say, “Hey Google, play The Monster Mash,” and he is dancing away on his stage (the ottoman.) While the device may not be able to understand him when he’s asking certain questions, he did find success with it just the other day.
“Hey Google. Where does Santa lives?” he asked, his adorable grammatical blunder notwithstanding. Sure enough, Google responded with an answer. Although, it is worth noting that the response provided was one that a not-quite-three-year-old was decisively uninterested in hearing, in case you wanted to try at home.
Of course, this is just one small example of artificial intelligence and how it can be used in practical applications and beyond. While anyone who has recently watched shows or movies such as “Black Mirror,” “Ex Machina,” or “Terminator 2” may be less enthusiastic, there are still endless possibilities—in machine vision and beyond—for how this evolving technology can be applied.