When we survey our lives and endeavors,” wrote Albert Einstein in The World as I See It, “we soon observe that almost the whole of our actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other human beings.” In Einstein’s world view, individuals are not regarded as single spirits but rather as members of a larger human society that directs their material and spiritual existence. Einstein believed that the mission of science was to serve the well-being of humanity and, in a sense, he may be regarded as a founder of the concept of system integration.
As in Einstein’s world, the hectic pace of developments in machine vision requires that no individual alone develops complete machine-vision systems. To build the lighting for these systems, manufacturers depend on LED manufacturers, cable suppliers, metal fabricators, and power supplies. Likewise, frame-grabber and CPU developers rely on semiconductor manufacturers, PCB vendors, and CAD software to build their products. In turn, system integrators depend on all of these companies with which to build their systems.
Of course, to build machine-vision systems requires an understanding of these OEM products and how they can be configured in systems. To meet the demands of high-speed web-inspection systems, for example, high-throughput color linescan cameras must be used, as contributing editor Winn Hardin explains in this issue. These linescan cameras use multitap imager sensors to increase both the sensitivity and throughput. In his article on telecentric lenses, editor Andy Wilson looks at how these components can be used to make precise, repeatable, and consistent optical measurements, reduce the effects of magnification changes due to object displacement, and eliminate perspective or parallax errors.
Just as OEM components are used to build fully integrated machine-vision systems, they are also being used to inspect OEM components destined for other mechanical or electrical systems. For example, as one of the largest OEM suppliers of automotive components, Freudenberg in Germany has developed an automatic optical inspection system for shock-absorber seals. As Andy Wilson writes, this system can help reduce the number of product defects and increase the quality of production processes to a six sigma level.
A system that serves the well-being of humanity can also be found described in this issue by Jack Tchan of the London College of Communication. The system is designed to catch counterfeiters who use laser and ink-jet printing equipment. In Tchan’s system, digital image-analysis techniques have been applied to analyze patterns generated in the print due to irregular movements by the print engine.
Were he alive today, Albert Einstein would be intrigued by the interdependency of the many different companies that, in essence, bind humans and engineered systems together. In the future, this interdependency is likely to increase as companies deploy and use many more innovative products around the world.