Business Vision

pennNET launches product-sourcing Web site; Alliances accelerate; Technology trends; and more.

pennNET launches product-sourcing Web site

A leader in creating secure e-marketplaces for business professionals in global markets, pennNET (Nashua, NH;, the Internet subsidiary of PennWell Corp., publisher of Vision Systems Design, has inaugurated a Product Sourcing Assistant Product tool on its Web sites that is positioned across optical and electronic technology industries. This tool is structured to assist engineers and managers in finding qualified suppliers for their special product needs.

Jay Regan, director of business development for pennNET's Advanced Electronic Technology Division, says, "Product Sourcing Assistant saves companies time and money. It's easy to use and helps engineers and managers reduce their search time. It also broadens their reach to suppliers and filters out those who cannot meet their needs. Moreover, it empowers engineers and suppliers by providing the building blocks to create product-purchasing and selling solutions and to gain benefits from a large, online transaction-based community."

The Product Sourcing Assistant allows engineers and managers to provide detailed specifications on the products they need, such as application descriptions, desired product attributes, delivery dates, and required quantities. It also permits engineers and managers to select suppliers and view the status of their product requests online with a Specifier Status Page. Suppliers are then notified by e-mail via a design application request. They may obtain qualified leads for a nominal fee. The Web-site database contains more than 17,000 prequalified suppliers.

Alliances accelerate

Cognex Corp. (Natick, MA;, a supplier of machine-vision systems, has agreed to purchase the machine-vision business of Komatsu Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan), a supplier of machine-vision inspection systems to the Japanese semiconductor industry, for $11 million with the performance potential for additional payments of up to $8 million. It also acquired Image Industries (Surrey, England), a key supplier of machine-vision systems to end users in the United Kingdom. In an OEM agreement, Vision Inspection Technology LLC (Haverhill, MA;, a manufacturer of automated optical inspection equipment, is going to use the Cognex MVS-800 vision processing hardware and special software for locating and inspecting objects despite changes in angle, size, and appearance.

Tektronix Inc. (Beaverton, OR;, a supplier of test and measurement instrumentation, has acquired Gage Applied Sciences Inc. (Montreal, QC, Canada;, a manufacturer of PC card-based instruments. The acquired company is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Tektronix and is operating under the name Gage Applied Inc.

Manufacturer of industrial robots and factory automation products Adept Technology Inc. (San Jose, CA USA; has bought Pensar Tucson Inc. (Tucson, AZ), a design/engineering automation company specializing in materials handling and assembly processes.

Computerized Thermal Imaging Inc. (Layton, UT;, a supplier of medical thermal-imaging systems, has purchased Bales Scientific Inc. (Walnut Creek, CA), a supplier of digital infrared imaging workstations and products.

Imaging network services supplier Eastman Kodak Co. (Rochester, NY; is aligning with AT&T, a provider of data and InternetProtocol services, to transfer digital images by connecting image capture, processing, storage, and output devices.

Space Imaging (Denver, CO; has agreed to acquire Pacific Meridian Resources (Emeryville, CA). Space Imaging supplies visual earth information products, and Pacific Meridian provides of remote-sensing and geospatial image classification, applications development, and Web technology.

GenRad Inc. (Westford, MA;, a supplier of inspection, test, and repair systems, has purchased Nicolet Imaging Systems (San Diego, CA), a supplier of x-ray inspection technologies, and its sister company Sierra Research and Technology Inc. (Westford, MA), a supplier of integrated rework systems, for $40 million.

Silicon Image Inc. (Sil; Sunnyvale, CA;, a provider of high-bandwidth semiconductor technologies, reports that Compaq Computer (Houston, TX), a leading computer manufacturer, has selected the Sil 151 PanelLink receiver chip for use in the Digital Visual Interface-compliant Compaq TFT8020 18-in. and TFT5010 15-in. flat-panel displays.

BrainTech Inc. (North Vancouver, BC, Canada;, a specialist in advanced pattern-recognition technologies and products, and ABB Canada (Ville St.-Laurent, QC, Canada;, a supplier of industrial robotized automation products and services, have agreed to jointly market vision-guided robotics systems.

Technology trends

Developed by the USB 2.0 Promoter Group, consisting of Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Lucent, Microsoft, NEC, and Philips, of the USB Implementers Forum (, the final Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 specification has been released. Fully forward and backward compatible with current USB systems, this latest specification extends the speed of the peripheral-to-PC connection from 12 Mbit/s on USB 1.1 to 480 Mbit/s.

EyeTicket Corp. (McLean, VA; has unveiled the first installation of its EyePass program at the Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (Charlotte, NC). EyePass uses iris-recognition algorithms to control airline and airport employee access to restricted areas and security operations.

Image Processing Systems Inc. (Markham, ON, Canada;, a developer and supplier of electronic-vision technology, has been awarded US Pat. #5,969,756, which covers the company's automated display inspection and alignment technology for checking cathode-ray tubes.

Amicas Inc. (Newton, MA; has launched Web-based AMICAS services to manage and deliver medical images. These services deliver real-time Internet-standard teleradiology and electronic records from hospital, clinic, and health-care imaging facilities, with built-in image-management utilities for record matching, data security, and privacy, to connected doctors, physicians, surgeons, and specialists.

Burr-Brown Corp. (Tucson, AZ; has unveiled the 14-bit, 10-MHz VSP3100 single-chip, three-channel image-signal processor for charge-coupled-device or contact-image-sensor type color scanners, film/image scanners, and industrial cameras. This processor provides an interface between the image sensor and the digital signal processor.

Advanced Precision Technology Inc. (Livermore, CA;, a developer of identity-verification systems, has been awarded US Pat. #6,0338,043 for Method of Recording a Holographic Optical Element, and US Pat. #6,002,499 for Real-Time Fingerprint Sensor and Verification System. The technologies use holographic optics to capture an undistorted fingerprint image that is compared to a previously loaded print or filter stored as a hologram.

Eastman Kodak Co. (Rochester, NY; go/ccd) has decided to sell its Blue Plus Color charge-coupled-device image sensors to digital camera and imaging device manufacturers. These sensors incorporate the company's indium tin oxide technology; when coupled with color filter arrays, they provide 2 million- to 6 million-pixel resolution, 12-bit performance, antiblooming protection, and 13-, 9-, and 6.8-(m square pixels.

FlashPoint Technology Inc. (San Jose, CA; www.flashpoint. com) has been awarded US Pat. #6,020,920 for Method and System for Speculative Decompression of Compressed Image Data in an Image capture Unit, and US Design Pat. #D0418,826, Image for Display Screen of a Digital Camera.

Management moves

Cognex Corp. (Natick, MA; has prevailed on key motions in its lawsuit against the Lemelson Medical, Education & Research Foundation Limited Partnership based on rulings issued recently by the US District Court in Reno, NV. Cognex is seeking declaration that certain machine-vision patents assigned to the Lemelson Partnership by the late Jerome H. Lemelson are not infringed by either Cognex or by users of Cognex products. The rulings mean that Cognex has established a legitimate claim against the Partnership and can move ahead to trial and present evidence that the Partnership's patents are invalid and unenforceable.

ViewSonic Corp. (Walnut, CA;, a visual technology company, has promoted Charles McArthur to president and chief operating officer.

CCS America Inc., a manufacturer of LED illumination technology for image-processing applications and a wholly owned subsidiary of CCS Inc. (Kyoto, Japan), has opened a North American office and application support laboratory in Waltham, MA.

ScanSoft Inc. (Peabody, MA;, a provider of digital imaging software, has promoted Ben S. Wittner to vice president, technology development.

Colorado MicroDisplay Inc. (Boulder, CO;, a supplier of small liquid-crystal-display modules, has promoted Kenney R. Roberts Sr., formerly vice president of worldwide operations, to president and chief operating officer.

Santa Barbara Infrared Inc. (Santa Barbara, CA;, a manufacturer of electro-optical/infrared test equipment and Mirage dynamic infrared scene projectors, has added Richard Robinson as director of scene simulation.

Davidson Optronics (West Covina, CA;, an optical manufacturing company, has appointed Tolis Deslis as vice president and chief operating officer.

Intensys Corp. (San Jose, CA;, a digital imaging technology company, has appointed Richard Clayton as vice president of engineering. His 30 years of experience in the computer industry includes corporate vice president positions at Digital Equipment Corp., Thinking Machines, and Adaptec.

Stocker & Yale Inc. (Salem, NH; has appointed Herbert Cordt to its board of directors. He is currently managing director of Cordt & Partner, International Business Consultants (Vienna, Austria).

PVI Systems LLC (New London, CT; has been formed to provide custom automated test equipment using machine-vision, motion-control, and data-acquisition hardware for the electronics, automotive, and pharmaceutical industries. The engineering staff offers more than 50 years of design experience and 25 years of National Instruments LabVIEW and IMAQ vision systems development.

Contracts committed

InVision Technologies Inc. (Newark, CA; has received a $1.5 million order from Teleflex Gallet of France for a CTX 5500 DSi explosive detection system, two upgrade kits, and accessories. Based on computed-tomography technology, the system will be integrated into the baggage system at the Manchester Airport in the United Kingdom. The company has also signed a contract worth $80 million over three years with the Federal Aviation Administration for CTX 9000 DSi explosive detection systems.

SolidWorks Corp. (Concord, MA;, a provider of 3-D CAD software, has announced that the cross-departmental StutCAD training center at the University of Stuttgart in Germany has implemented 70 company software licenses.

Xybion Electronics Systems Corp. (San Diego, CA; has received a $4.2 million order from The Boeing Co. (Seattle, WA) for the design, development, and manufacture of a long-reach night-vision and targeting video camera and control system for integration into the US Air Force AC-130U Gunship fleet.

FLIR Systems Inc. (Portland, OR;, a leading infrared imaging technology company, has been awarded several commercial and US government contracts worth approximately $29.7 million.

PixTech Inc. (Boise, ID; has received a $6.3 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for the development and demonstration of a full-color, full-video-rate, 12.1-in. field-emission display.

American Science and Engineering Inc. (Billerica, MA; has received a $1 million order from the US government to upgrade the technology and equipment for the CargoSearch x-ray inspection system at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in California.

Market vision

According to Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI; Mountain View, CA;, the North American-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment achieved a fifth straight month of record orders in March 2000 with a book-to-bill ratio of 1.45 ($145 in orders were received for every $100 worth of products shipped). This ratio is the second highest since these data have been compiled and the highest in nearly five years. The three-month average of worldwide shipments in March 2000 was $1.7 billion, which is 79% above the March 1999 shipment level of $994 million.

The MRI Industry Report, a quarterly newsletter published by Miller Freeman, reports that 928 new magnetic-resonance-imaging systems, valued at $1.07 billion, were installed in US hospitals and clinics during 1999. Sales revenues increased 12.2% due to demands for more costly whole-body systems that provide neurological, abdominal, and cardiovascular imaging.

Cognex Corp. (Natick, MA; has surpassed $1 million in bookings for its stand-alone In-Sight 2000 industrial machine-vision sensor (see Vision Systems Design, Feb. 2000, p. 34).

Cahners In-Stat Group (Scottsdale, AZ) reports that in 1999 the sales revenues for digital signal processors (DSPs) totaled $4.4 billion, a 25% increase over 1998, despite a five-year average selling price drop of 11%. The DSP market is controlled by Texas Instruments with a 47.1% share, Lucent with 25.9%, Motorola with 14.5%, Analog Devices with 7.6%, and others with 4.7%.

According to the recent DisplaySearch (Austin, TX; second annual US Flat-Panel Display (FPD) conference, the FPD industry market soared 67% to $18.5 billion. This market is projected to grow 25% annually to $69 billion in 2005.



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