Q&A: MVTec Managing Director discusses machine vision software, future market trends

Dr. Olaf Munkelt, Managing Director at MVTec Software GmbH discusses such topics as machine vision software (Including HALCON 13 and MERLIC 2), future industry trends, and application areas in which growth could be on the horizon.

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With Dr. Olaf Munkelt, Managing Director at MVTec Software GmbH

Can you tell us a little bit about what is new at MVTec?

MVTec celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, for example with an exceptionally successful open house event where many partners, customers and old friends took part. We’ve had out MERLIC software available since June, and we have our HALCON 13 machine vision software on the horizon.

MVTec and Vision Systems Design share at least one thing in common, as well, asboth are 20 years old this year.

Can you tell us a little bit about both HALCON and MERLIC, and what they do?

HALCON is the comprehensive standard software formachine vision. It’s aimed at the professional developer, creating his/her own custom, highly-specialized machine vision application. HALCON requires coding skills to be properly utilized and provides HDevelop, an IDE (integrated development environment) which is tailored to the needs of machine vision applications.

MERLIC is the all-in-one software solution for quickly building machine vision applicationswithout programming. It is based on MVTec’s extensive machine vision expertise and combines reliable, fast performance with ease of use. MERLIC’s integrated tool library contains a wide range of tools for the most common vision processing tasks, and can also be expanded by adding customized tools. Customers can interactively design a user interface for their machine vision application. Last but not least, MERLIC features integrated PLC communication.

Can you tell me about the latest version of MERLIC, and what it does, and what the plans are for future versions?

WithMERLIC 2, MERLIC has become available worldwide. We are really happy to be able to offer this innovative and modern product via our highly-professional distributors to customers around the globe. The software provides a user-friendly and efficient workflow experience, and supports multiple languages. There are a number of new features, which include:

  • MERLIC is now also available in a native 64-bit version, which enables building high-resolution, 64-bit applications that require more memory.
  • By training machine vision applications directly in the MERLIC Frontend, you can teach the system new sample parts or regions of interest (ROIs) with just a few clicks.
  • In future versions, the usability of existing technologies will be increased by for example enabling the integration of more and more processes.

Can you tell me about the latest version of HALCON, and what it does, and what the plans are for future versions?

Yes, of course. HALCON 13 allows significant speedups, especially regarding our key identification technology shape-based matching and all related technologies, likeshape-based 3D matching, local and perspective deformable matching, and component-based matching.

Since setting up a texture inspection system is often tricky, HALCON offers an easy-to-use texture inspection, which is configured by simply passing some training images that show flawless texture. It also contains improvedsurface-based 3D matching, and major improvements in identification technologies such as OCR based on deep learning. Going forward, MVTec will always work on improving existing technologies and will continuously drive forward the machine vision community with pioneering developments.

In which areas or applications do you see the most growth?

Embedded vision is a hot topic. At MVTec, we have been active in this area for many years. Our product HALCON Embedded is being used in many demanding B2B solutions. Because the ARM architecture provides advantages like a small form factor and low power consumption at an attractive price level, we witness an increasing interest in HALCON Embedded for ARM architectures.

Hyperspectral imaging (HSI) is currently receiving increased attention since the corresponding hardware is becoming more widespread and more affordable. Despite this increased availability, not all application areas benefit equally from such a hardware-driven development. An application where HSI can provide useful data, for example, is precision farming.

Last not least, because of a continuously increasing degree of automation, 3D technologies such as 3D matching and 3D reconstruction will also see growth.

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