Stuttgart VISION Show highlights record growth

The VISION 2000 international trade fair for industrial image processing and identification technologies was held at the Messe Stuttgart in Germany last October. It attracted 5280 visitors and 154 exhibitors and 15 company representatives from 17 countries.

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George Kotelly, Editor in Chief
georgek@pennwell.com

Stuttgart VISION Show highlights record growth

The VISION 2000 international trade fair for industrial image processing and identification technologies was held at the Messe Stuttgart in Germany last October. It attracted 5280 visitors and 154 exhibitors and 15 company representatives from 17 countries. Compared to last year's results, these figures represent a 21% increase in exhibitors, an 8% increase in the number of visitors and the first time that fair attendance exceeded 5000, and a 3% increase in foreign visitors. The majority of foreign visitors came from Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, United States, Canada, and Japan.

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The presented industrial image-processing systems and components at the Stuttgart trade fairgrounds are primarily used for quality assurance in production, predominantly by the electronics/electrical engineering industry, car industry and metalworking industry. The main customer industries are located mainly in the surrounding German Federal State of Baden-Württemberg. Trade visitors from these industries included 25% in management positions, 82% involved in purchasing decisions, and 65% that had firm purchase and investment intentions.

The increased number of exhibitors, attendees, and visitors (+18%) from abroad underscores that the Stuttgart VISION 2000 show is presently the leading worldwide trade fair for industrial image processing. Representatives from the US Automated Imaging Association (AIA) attended the show for the first time to encourage co-operation between the AIA, Messe Stuttgart International, and the Association of German Machinery Manufacturers (VDMA). The VDMA acts as the professional supporter of the VISION show and promotes commercial co-operation agreements between German and American companies.

Accordingly, the VDMA organized a one-day Beginners' Workshop seminar on the day before the start of the trade fair to provide an introduction to the world of industrial image processing. In addition, it provided Industrial Vision Days, a series of talks featuring practical examples that drew 1550 visitors. Manfred Hock, head of the technical section for industrial image processing/machine vision in the VDMA and organizer of the Industrial Vision Days, said, "We were extremely satisfied that trade visitors showed more interest in our program."

A special VDI/VDE (Association of German Engineers/Association of German Electrical Engineers) conference entitled "Industrial applications of image processing" was also held. This conference was organized by the Association for Measuring and Automation Technology (GMA). New developments in the field of industrial image processing and their applications were presented in 24 talks and 19 poster presentations. Dieter Westerkamp, organizer of this conference, said, "The 80 delegates from science, development, and applications found an excellent forum for the exchange of information and for mutual suggestions during the conference and trade fair."

For the eighth time, Messe Stuttgart presented the Prize for Applied Image Processing. This prize honors an innovative industry product, system solution, method, or process and is worth DM4000 (US$1800). A jury comprising qualified professionals chose Nicolas Blanc and his team from CSEM (Zurich, Switzerland) for its Linlog CMOS camera that features a wide dynamic range and excellent contrast for both underexposed and overexposed conditions.

In the exhibitor booths, intelligent cameras that digitize and process images directly in their housing were the major technical trend. They also are being incorporated into easy-to-use plug-and-play systems. New CMOS photosensors were prominently displayed, and several line cameras demonstrated increased light sensitivity and depth focus. Most of the new software packages focused on more user-friendly interfaces. On the hardware component side, decreasing prices abounded.

According to the latest market survey conducted by the Technical Section for Industrial Image Processing/Machine Vision in the VDMA in 1999/2000, sales soared by 21.8% to DM865 million (US$383 million). Products in the industry are also developing at a rapid pace as 89% of the exhibitors presented innovative or new product developments.

Several important visitors offered their opinions of the show. Jeff Burnstein, executive director of the AIA (Ann Arbor, MI), commented, "This was my first visit to VISION. The trade fair was fantastic, and I was totally impressed. The participating companies from America found ideal conditions to gain a foothold on the German and European markets." David Dechow, chairman of the AIA, added, "VISION is the ideal platform for increasing cooperation between German and American companies. The contacts established this year between the AIA and the VDMA will definitely be extended and intensified." Joe Delfino, director of sales and marketing at Alacron (Nashua, NH), stated, "Our company attended VISION for the first time and established some excellent contacts that will probably help us gain a foothold on the German market."

Don W. Braggins, director of the UK Industrial Vision Association, United Kingdom, said, "I was very impressed with VISION 2000. There were a large number of new and interesting companies at the trade fair, including some from Hungary and Russia. Visitors came with excellent prior knowledge and were looking specifically for solutions. At no other industrial image-processing trade fair is the level of visitor expertise so high as in Stuttgart."

The next VISION 2001 fair will be held in Messe Stuttgart from Oct. 9 to 11, 2001.

Alliances accelerate
Cognex Corp. (Natick, MA; www. cognex.com), a supplier of machine-vision systems, has purchased the web- inspection technology of Honeywell Industrial Control (Phoenix, AZ; www.iac.honeywell.com), a global service and manufacturing provider. Key Honeywell employees and technologies will be integrated into Cognex's surface-inspection-systems division (Alameda, CA). In addition, Cognex will provide web- inspection systems to Honeywell customers in the pulp and paper industries, and Honeywell will purchase Cognex vision systems for use in its factories.

Sound Vision Inc. (Framingham, MA; www.soundvisioninc.com), a developer of digital imaging and sensing components and software, and Displaytech Inc. (Longmont, CO; www.displatytech. com), a supplier of microdisplays, are integrating Sound Vision's Clarity 2.0 imaging chips into Displaytech's LightView QVGA microdisplays for use in digital still cameras.

CyberOptics Corp. (Minneapolis MN; www.cyberoptics.com), a pro-vider of tools for the electronic assembly and semiconductor fabrication equipment markets, has acquired Imagenation Corp. (Portland, OR; www.imagenation.com), a supplier of machine-vision components and subsystems, for approximately $6 million.

Sony Corp. (Tokyo, Japan; www. world.sony.com), a global provider of information and communications products and technologies, and Candescent Technologies Corp. (San Jose, CA (www.candescent.com), a developer of flat-panel displays, have agreed to extend their existing partnership for another year in their joint development of high-voltage field-emission display color technology for thin flat-panel displays.

CR Technology (Aliso Viejo, CA; www.crtechnology. com), a provider of automated optical inspection and x-ray inspection systems, and Aegis Industrial Software Corp. (Philadelphia, PA; www.aiscorp.com), a developer of factory-automation software, have partnered to adapt Aegis software for autotraining CR inspection systems.

Pixelworks Inc. (Tualatin, OR; www.pixelworks.com) and Analog Devices Inc. (ADI; Norwood, MA; www.analog.com) have joined efforts to combine ADI's analog and digital receiver technology with Pixelworks' system-on-a-chip ImageProcessor ICs to improve dual-interface display technology.

Technology Trends
Edmund Industrial Optics (Barrington, NJ; www.edsci.com), a supplier of optical products and platforms, has introduced its Optical Layout including Video Elements (OLIVE) software package that enables designers to simulate an optical bench on any computer running Windows 95/98/00/NT. The software enables designers to load and save optical designs, calculate chromatic and seidel aberrations, identify limiting aperture and field stops, design and save custom lenses, and work in standard and custom CCD formats.

ViewSonic Europe (Crawley, West Sussex, England; www.viewsonic.com/europe) has unveiled its multidomain vertically aligned thin-film-transistor technology for liquid-crystal displays. With this technology, the liquid-crystal molecules are vertically/horizontally aligned to the substrate with each light cell divided into four areas with substrate ridges. It results in wider viewing angles (160°), higher contrast (400:1), faster response times, higher chromaticity, higher brightness (220 nits), and lower power consumption.

Agilent Technologies Inc. (Palo Alto, CA; www.agilent. com), a provider of communications products and technologies, has developed new CMOS sensors and a line of processing ICs for full-motion and still digital image capture. These sensors provide both VGA (640 x 480 pixels) and CIF (352 x 288 pixels) in a 13.5 x 14.4-mm package.

A fused image showing the exact location of cancer of the prostate has been named "Image of the Year" by the Society of Nuclear Medicine. The image, which combines CT, MRI, and SPECT data to produce a rotating, virtual 3-D scan, was produced by 3-D visualization software developed and owned by the University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. The software is used in conjunction with a Siemens Medical Systems, Nuclear Medicine Group (Hoffman Estates, IL; www.sms.siemems. com/nmg) e.cam gamma camera and ICON workstation, and Interactive Data Language (IDL) software from Research Systems Inc. (Boulder, CO; www.researchsystems.com).

Belkin Components (Compton, CA; www.belkin.com) has unveiled its Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 F5U220 PCI card that offers a full 480 Mbits/s per card, more than 40 times faster than the USB 1.1 standard using the NEC Corp. PD720100 USB 2.0 host controller.

Foresight Imaging LLC (Chelmsford, MA; www.foresightimaging.com) has incorporated 12-bit analog-to-digital converters into its I-series monochrome video streamers and frame grabbers.

Photon Vision Systems Inc. (Cortland, NY; www.photon-vision.com) has received a core patent for its Active Column Sensor technology for manufacturing CMOS image sensors. This technology uses a unity gain amplifier for each column in a sensor's pixel array that allows the sensing of more signal in a pixel and removes a key component of fixed-pattern noise.

Management moves
Cognex Corp. (Natick, MA: www.cognex.com), a supplier of machine-vision systems, has formed a new engineering team to develop machine-vision platforms specifically for the fiberoptic industry. The team is headed by Cognex cofounder and senior vice president of engineering, Marilyn Matz.

Melles Griot (Nepean, Ont., Canada; www.mellesgriot.com), a global supplier of photonics products, has promoted Richard Williams to general manager of its Canadian operation. He most recently was daily operations manager, administration and sales.

DY 4 Systems Inc. (Kanata, Ont., Canada; www.dy4.com), a manufacturer of boards, software, and systems, has named Vincent Lavoie as vice president of research and development. He recently served as director of engineering at Oerlikon Aerospace Inc.

Gould Precision Optics Inc. (Birmingham, NY; www.gouldoptics.com), a manufacturer of optics and optical subassemblies, has doubled the size of its production, optical laboratory, and research facility to 12,500 square feet to develop and test calcium fluoride lenses and optical subassemblies primarily for deep ultraviolet and infrared applications.

Adept Technology Inc. (San Jose, CA; www.adept.com), a provider of robotic and factory automation products and systems, is planning to expand its manufacturing and research facilities in Livermore, CA, to 75,000 square feet.

Hitachi Scientific Instruments Inc. (Mountain View, CA; www.nissei.com), a division of Nissei Sangyo America, is planning to relocate its headquarters to Pleasanton, CA, and double its current space to accommodate its design, service, training, and support groups.

Vitana Corp. (Ottawa, Ont., Canada; www.ixthos.com), a supplier of digital imaging systems, has created a wholly owned subsidiary, ShapeGrabber Inc., that will focus on the design and development of 3-D digitizing components and systems. In addition, Marc Bisson, the former chief financial officer of Vitana, has been appointed chief executive officer of ShapeGrabber.

Three-Five Systems Inc. (Tempe, AZ; www.threefive.com), a supplier of visual display systems, has appointed Murray Goldman to its board of directors. Goldman recently retired as executive vice president and assistant manger of Motorola's Semiconductor Products sector.

Hitachi Semiconductor (America) Inc. (San Jose, CA; www.hitachi.com/semiconductor), a global supplier of a range of semiconductors, has promoted Satoru Ito to chairman and chief executive officer and Dan Maloney to president and chief operations officer.

Colorado MicroDisplay Inc. (Boulder, CO; www.comicro. com), a developer of microdisplay chipsets, has named Michael R. Cherniawski as vice president of operations. He last served as director of engineering at Motorola Inc.

Hewlett-Packard Co. (Palo Alto, CA; www.hp.com), a provider of computing and imaging products, has named Richard A. DeMillo vice president and chief technology officer and Stephen L. Squires vice president and chief science officer. DeMillo previously served as general manager of Internet Systems Group at Telcordia Technologies. Squires recently served as special assistant for information technology in the office of the director at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Market vision
According to Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI; Mountain View, CA; www.semi. org), the North American-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment reported a slight decline in shipments for September 2000 with a Book-to-Bill ratio of 1.16: that is, $116 in orders were received for every $100 worth of products shipped. The three-month average of worldwide shipments in September 2000 was $2.44 billion, which was even with the August 2000 shipments level but 73% higher at $2.18 billion than the $1.41 billion shipments of September 1999.

Assembly Technology Expo 2000, held in the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center (Rosemont, IL; www.atexpo.com) last September, attracted 725 exhibitors and 15,653 attendees for the largest audience in the show's 21-year history. In addition to presenting numerous assembly-oriented products and technologies, the Expo offered dedicated pavilions for robotics and electronics that were filled by vision- and imaging-based companies, such as AccuSentry (Marietta, GA), Ascor Inc. (York, PA), Adept Technology (San Jose, CA), Cognex Corp. (Natick, MA), Integral Vision (Farmington Hills, MI), ISRA Vision Systems Group (Lansing, MI), Keyence Corp.(Woodcliff Lake, NJ), and Synergistic Inc. (Lewisberry, PA).

Stanford Resources (San Jose, CA; www.stanfordresources. com) in its latest market research report on the global cathode-ray-tube monitor report predicts that North America is the largest market through 2006, but the highest annual growth rates will occur in the Far East (15%) and rest-of-world (14%) regions; the street value of all computer monitors will total $28 billion in 2000 and grow to $32 billion in 2006; and the overall unit penetration of flat-panel monitors as a percentage of the total computer monitor market will increase from less than 5% in 2000 to about 30% in 2006.

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