Systems developers face two choices when working on vision-systems software: either write image-processing functions or use graphical-user-interface-based packages...
Systems developers face two choices when working on vision-systems software: either write image-processing functions or use graphical-user-interface-based packages. And while object-oriented programming languages such as C++ allow developers to reuse their existing work, Microsoft Visual C++ and ActiveX technology enable the creation of "off-the-shelf" plug-in software tools. This month, we look at the Web sites of some vendors of current off-the-shelf software packages for image processing and machine vision.
Functions and tools
As part of MatLab, the Image Processing Toolbox from The MathWorks (Natick, MA) provides image-processing functions and interactive tools for enhancing and analyzing digital images and for developing image-processing algorithms. Most functions are implemented in open MatLab language, allowing developers to customize existing toolbox algorithms. On this site, you can download a 30-day trial of the software, access a complete function list, view software demonstrations, and read on-line application stories.
Western Vision Software (Salt Lake City, UT) offers HLImage++ machine-vision and image-processing software that runs under Windows 98/NT/2000. This software is offered as an out-of-the-box, stand-alone image-processing application with predefined image-processing tools, as a base for the addition of user-written custom tools, or as an object-oriented API for custom image-processing applications. On this site, you can download a fully functional 30-day evaluation of the software, download on-line manuals, and access service packs and software support.
Distributed by Ronald Massa Associates (Cohasset, MA), Way-2C is a machine-vision software system designed for color-based tasks such as inspection, process control, image interpretation, measurement, and sorting. On this site, you will find descriptions of the product; example applications; lengthy tutorial articles on color, color spaces, and color matching; as well as numerous links to related sources.
MVTec (Munich, Germany) targets semiconductor, web-inspection, quality-control, and machine-vision applications for its Halcon general-purpose vision software. The toolset, optimized for OEMs and system integrators, helps engineers set up solutions for specific machine-vision problems. On its Web site, you can read about both Halcon and the ActivVisionTools machine-vision toolkit. Downloads of both packages are available from the site, along with a portfolio of success stories from industrial and research customers.
Designed for system integrators of machine-vision systems, Common Vision Blox is available from Integral Vision (Farmington Hills, MI) and Stemmer Imaging (Puchheim, Germany). Using Visual Basic, Visual C++, or Delphi, developers can create Microsoft Windows GUIs to customize their applications. From this site, you can download Common Vision Blox, Version 7, Image Manager documentation. However, without a dongle connector, images cannot be saved.
Stockcar 2.0 from Lecky Engineering (Williston, VT) is a machine-vision library expressly designed for frame-grabber, USB, and IEEE-1394/FireWire/iLink interfaces. Included are functions for image-structure handling, color-space conversions, and more than 500 image-processing, blob-finding, edge-detection, statistical, math, and geometric functions. You can download sample programs and get a complete technical manual and an evaluation copy. And, if you like the software, you can order it on-line.
Other interesting machine-vision software sites