[Page 2] Q&A: Industrial motion control and machine vision for robotics and automation

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In which areas or applications in imaging and vision do you see the most growth?

We’re definitely seeing really interesting developments in hyperspectral and multispectral imaging. The global hyperspectral imaging market is expected to reach $74.29 million by 2019, with a growth rate of 12% from 2014 to 2019. With advances in sensors, filters, and processors, multi- and hyperspectral imaging is becoming more affordable, compact and accessible for a variety of applications.

Government agencies and agricultural companies alike are deploying multispectral and hyperspectral imaging to measure crop health and growth. That could entail anything from identifying water-stressed plants to detecting diseased crops in the field.

For all the advantages it provides, multispectral and hyperspectral imaging still contends with limitations. Whereas multispectral uses a handful of spectral bands, hyperspectral can use hundreds.

Hyperspectral imaging is data intensive, requiring a lot of computing power and bandwidth to transmit the vast amounts of information collected by the camera. I am sure the market will address some of these problems by extending offerings from cameras to computational modules capable of processing hyperspectral data in real-time. Which is where KINGSTAR and IntervalZero come in.

When it comes to multi- and hyperspectral imaging for space applications, cost remains one of the biggest barriers to entry for high-resolution imagers. Multispectral imaging is not used more widely due to the fact that these detectors tend to be expensive. Typically, smaller countries cannot afford to pay for a full-fledged payload, or full satellite. That can run into hundreds of millions of dollars. In these instances, smaller governments or private entities end up purchasing the data rather than developing their own remote-sensing system.

Although multispectral and hyperspectral imaging still encounters challenges in broader adoption of the technology, shrinking camera sizes and better processing capabilities are opening the door to more applications that require precision inspection.

Is there a particular trend or product in the next few years that you see as “the next big thing?”

Made in China 2025 (MiC2025) is at the top of our list. MiC2025 is a government-based initiative to comprehensively upgrade Chinese industry. The initiative draws direct inspiration from Germany’s "Industry 4.0" plan, which was first discussed in 2011 and later adopted in 2013. The heart of the “Industry 4.0” idea is intelligent manufacturing, i.e., applying the tools of information technology to production. In the German context, this primarily means using the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect all the small and medium-sized companies more efficiently in global production and innovation networks, so that they can not only more efficiently engage in mass production, but just as easily and efficiently customize products.

Made in China 2025 is set to promote breakthroughs in 10 key industries where China wants to be a leader in the future, including information technology, robotics, aerospace, railways, and electric vehicles. To achieve this, Beijing plans, among other things, to continue a trend of state-directed innovation, proposing to establish 15 manufacturing innovation centers by 2020, which would be expanded to 40 by 2025.

China recognizes that the entire supply chain must innovate because the chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The scope of MiC 2025 specifically points out goals. In the machine automation and robotics industries, for example, the robot supply chain typically delivers hardware like servo drives, motion controllers, machine vision, and PLCs to name a few. To align with MiC 2025, the robot supply chain must rethink its traditional hardware-based approach and consider software-based alternatives by providing real-time operating systems (RTOS) on standard IPCs, soft motion control, EtherCAT protocol, soft PLC, software-based machine vision and more.

Do you have any new exciting products or developments on the horizon?

The strength of a platform is that it can integrate the best-of-breed components for the highest quality and performance. The more components there are in the platform, the stronger the platform becomes. KINGSTAR is already strong in this regard, and in the future, more and more components can and will be added to this open platform for availability, such as Kinematics (for CNC and Robotics) and Simulation.

View more information on KINGSTAR.

Share your vision-related news by contacting James Carroll, Senior Web Editor, Vision Systems Design

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