Musical instruments and machine vision are not often found in close proximity. Yet when Icelandic singer/performer Björk took the Reactable vision-based synthesizer on her recent Volta tour, her group created a melodic blend of electronic music and image processing. A somewhat similar experience could have been had by any engineer visiting the Allied Vision Technologies booth at VISION 2007 in Stuttgart—where the instrument was available to budding pop stars.
As editor Andy Wilson writes in our cover story, the Reactable was developed by a research group at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain, and advances the electronic musical synthesizer first demonstrated by Robert Moog in 1964. To “play” the instrument, a musician moves Plexiglas objects representing the elements of a classical modular synthesizer across a luminous tabletop, while a camera below continuously analyzes the surface, tracking the nature, position, and orientation of the objects so as to affect the sound.
An organic feel
As machine vision penetrates the performing arts, another article in this issue shows its growing value to the medical arts. In the article, our contributing editor Joyce Laird writes about a prototype system developed for the Swedish point-of-care diagnostic company Amic that enables high-speed diagnostic work on blood, plasma, and other liquids. Integrating a linescan camera, telecentric lens, and novel lighting has resulted in a system that can scan biochips to ensure that liquid has been properly dispensed.
Other articles in this issue are less organic in tone. Contributing editor Winn Hardin looks at machine vision in the production of automotive parts at Michigan-based diesel-engine part manufacturer EMP. The company uses a manufacturing unit of six workcells to perform deburring operations on parts with the help of automated guided vehicles, machine vision, and rail-mounted robots. An article by applications engineer Jessica Gehlhar at Edmund Optics helps engineers and system designers select a machine-vision lens tailored as needed to perform accurate, high-speed imaging. Her essential point is “use only the necessary lens—but ensure that it meets the performance requirements of the application.”
GigE Vision cameras, the topic of our Product Focus article by editor Andy Wilson, are being offered by an increasing number of camera vendors and proving their value in numerous applications. Yet, he points out that machine-vision-system integrators must understand and evaluate the GigE drivers offered by each vendor so that the best system can be implemented.
As with playing a sophisticated instrument such as a musical synthesizer, integrating a machine-vision system is an art form that requires considerable technical knowledge and experience. A sense of rhythm also helps.