Too fast, too incorrect

If today's high-technology information resources are not up to par, the marketing efforts of some machine-vision and image-processing companies are also suffering.

Aug 1st, 2003

If today's high-technology information resources are not up to par, the marketing efforts of some machine-vision and image-processing companies are also suffering.

by Andy Wilson
EDITOR
andyw@pennwell.com

A recent press release from a large semiconductor company stated that its latest SDRAM had been fabricated using a 0.11-mm process. If this were so, the size of the die would be larger than my office, and I have a small office. Of course, the company meant microns and not millimeters—an error that should have been caught in the final approval cycle.

But, in today's fast-paced "fire-ready-aim" world, this was not so. Within one hour of receiving the press release, three high-technology information-related Web sites and the company's distributor had already posted the press release with the fabrication mistake. The release came replete with quotes from the marketing manager promoting the benefits of 0.11-mm-process technology. In the rush to be "first" with the news, some professionals seem to have omitted data checking.

If today's high-technology information resources are not up to par, the marketing efforts of some machine-vision and image-processing companies are also suffering. At the recent International Robots & Vision Show (Rosemont, IL; June 2003), several companies introduced new products, displayed technical data sheets, and demonstrated the integration of robots and vision. Unfortunately, there was little information available in the vendors' booths about how, from a systems integrator's perspective, to accomplish the integration. The press releases simply focused on the products' numerous benefits.

At the show, I asked one vendor of vision-based robotics systems for some literature on how to develop a vision-guided system. "We never bring any of that literature to trade shows," the vendor explained. "That material would just be collected by students and paper collectors." Don't worry, he assured me, just let me run your badge in our card reader and our salesman will call you. But how can you evaluate a complex technical product without proper information?

Marketing hype

Some vendors do, however, promote their products with literature. Unfortunately, this so-called technical information is mostly marketing hype. One manufacturer's release said, "This product brings machine-vision cameras to a whole new level. With global shutter capability and faster frame rates, the product brings high-resolution image acquisition to high-speed moving applications without sacrificing image quality or performance. At roughly half the size and weight and twice the speed of other based high-resolution cameras, the product is ideally sized for use in space-constrained environments."

This material is so compelling it makes you want to immediately buy the product. If only you knew what it was, had any idea of its specifications, or how to interface it. Well, at least the company listed its address on the press release. Now I can e-mail the company and ask for information that I should have received at the show.

While attending the recent Real-Time Computing Conference (Framingham, MA), I spoke to one marketing manager who blatantly said, "Sending press releases to magazines is a complete waste of time and of the paper they are written on." How this person then expected to obtain press coverage for his products left me puzzled.

Higher accuracy needed

I am not an advocate of "closed" systems that make it difficult for integrators to upgrade their systems when better/faster/ simpler/cheaper hardware and software becomes available. What I do object to, however, is the lack of accurate technical marketing information being offered by some machine-vision and image-processing companies.

Marketing departments in high-technology companies should rethink their marketing strategies. Their technical information must be decisively improved as to clarity, accuracy, and usefulness.

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