Cameras hold the key to machine-vision design

Industrial cameras are the cornerstone of many machine-vision and image-processing systems. And, even in this highly competitive market, camera manufacturers abound, constantly improving their products to meet the changing needs of systems integrators.

Th Kotelly
Th Kotelly
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Industrial cameras are the cornerstone of many machine-vision and image-processing systems. And, even in this highly competitive market, camera manufacturers abound, constantly improving their products to meet the changing needs of systems integrators.

As described in this month's feature articles, the latest cameras are qualifying food products, directing smart vehicles, offering different interfaces, and inspecting three-dimensional parts. In addition, the Technology Trends stories describe a stereo imaging camera for microscopy, a FireWire-based camera for precision component placement, a camera for robotics, and a camera for aligning optical fibers.

All bulk and packaged food products are now scrupulously inspected for contaminants, as well as other impurities, to assure 100% quality. Otherwise, disastrous physical, legal, or financial consequences could result. Reports contributing editor Larry Curran, a novel x-ray scanner, camera, and image-processing software have been developed in Europe to automatically check images of food products for defects as the products move rapidly on a conveyor belt (see p. 31).

Because automobile traffic is dramatically increasing, car manufacturers are investigating the concept of "smart" vehicles. These vehicles are being designed to detect other nearby cars, road signs, and pedestrians using a vision system. According to contributing editor Charles Masi, a leading car manufacturer has demonstrated such a vehicle using two cameras in a stereo configuration, a frame grabber, several processors, and many software algorithms. This integrated system can navigate the vehicle through city traffic at normal driving speeds under the supervision of a human driver (see p. 41).

Selecting a camera for a specific application requires careful evaluation of the camera interface. Interfaces vary from bus-based formats such as IEEE-1394 (or FireWire) and USB 2 to single-link protocols such as Camera Link and RS-644. To choose the proper interface, says editor Andy Wilson, designers must evaluate each method because they involve different connectors, cables, data speeds, and costs (see p. 47).

In many machine-vision applications, complicated three-dimensional parts must be inspected with high accuracy. In this month's Product Focus, Andy Wilson explains how systems integrators are coupling telecentric lenses to CCD cameras to capture images that deliver constant magnification over a defined working-distance range (see p. 53).

George Kotelly,Editor in Chief
georgek@pennwell.com

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