At VISION 2010 non-industrial applications will shine

The organizers of VISION 2010 anticipate that the show will illustrate the high growth potential for machine vision solutions in medicine, traffic engineering, security technology, cartography, and aerospace.

The organizers of VISION 2010 anticipate that the show will illustrate the high growth potential for machine vision solutions in medicine, traffic engineering, security technology, cartography, and aerospace.

The range of applications of machine vision systems, which have primarily been used to date in industry, is continuing to grow at an enormous rate in the non-industrial sector. This trend will also be reflected at VISION 2010, which will be staged at the New Stuttgart Trade Fair Centre from 9-11 November 2010. With the new subtitle International Trade Fair for Machine Vision (MV), Messe Stuttgart is indicating that the concept of VISION takes full account of the increase in the number of user industries.

According to the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) Machine Vision Group, non-industrial applications now account for more than 10% of the turnover of German machine vision companies and therefore occupy fourth place in the user industry league table which is currently topped by the automotive industry, followed by the glass and electronics industries.

“In the last five years, our company has experienced an above-average increase in the turnover proportion of non-industrial machine vision applications from 20 to 35%”, says Arndt Bake, General Manager at Basler Vision Technologies. Bake mentions, as one example, increases in the road traffic sector with so-called “intelligent traffic systems” (ITS), which are used to guide traffic or identify number plates.

Henning Staerk, Marketing and Sales Director at Allied Vision Technologies GmbH, sees high demand in the medical technology industry in particular. In this case the company supplies special cameras for medical diagnostic equipment. According to Staerk, however, other market segments include science and research where cameras are primarily used in microscopy. “Areas such as security or sport and entertainment, which place special demands on interactive multimedia applications, are other examples of sales markets with high growth rates”, adds Staerk.

The technical requirement profiles of camera systems for the non-industrial sector are very different depending on the particular application. This fact will also be demonstrated at VISION 2010. “In an industrial application there are normally very controlled light conditions”, says Bake. However, the lighting conditions outdoors may be very variable.

Dr. Gerhard Holst, Head of Research and Development at PCO AG, has discovered that the key factor in scientific applications, for example, is excellent linear behaviour of the camera, while the focal point when making advertising or nature films is high picture and colour quality. “During VISION 2010, however, we will exhibit a camera which copes with both challenges,” says Dr. Holst.

Top quality is essential in machine vision products for defence and aerospace, which also rank among typical non-industrial application areas. “The main factors here are durability, resistance, and long-term availability,” says Alexander Berg, Sales and Marketing Manager at Kappa opto-electronics GmbH. “In order to satisfy these requirements in long-term general contracts,” says Berg, “Kappa is increasingly using non-component-dependent realisations such as firmware programming of our own colour processing.”

Aerospace contains numerous examples of the enormous growth potential of machine vision applications in the non-industrial sector. In this case more and more security-critical applications are being supplemented by cameras. “Whereas an LED display was sufficient in the past,” says Berg, “an image is now required, for example, for nose wheel control or in parking assistance systems.” Kappa also has the right HDTV camera technology for refuelling aircraft while in flight. According to Berg, “These cameras ensure that the operator of the refuelling boom obtains an exact 3-D image, a panoramic view, and a head-on image in order to adjust the refuelling boom with 100% accuracy by means of a joystic.”

The market for intelligent traffic systems calls for different applications, including those which place special technical demands on industrial cameras. Basler has cameras with the corresponding functions in its portfolio and will present them at VISION 2010. “Speed cameras at red traffic lights, for example, are a classic example,” says Bake. “When a driver goes through a red light, a contact loop set into the ground is triggered and the machine vision system records - depending on the country - different aspects such as the registration number, the driver, etc. These data are then sent by radio, W-LAN, or another transmission method to the competent authorities.”

The Californian company eSolar uses GigE Vision cameras from Allied Vision Technologies to control solar power stations. Allied will present the cameras at VISION 2010. In solar thermal energy special mirrors are used to concentrate the sun’s rays on a dish in order to produce steam. “Our cameras ensure that thousands of mirrors are always perfectly turned towards the sun in order to optimally combine the sun’s rays,” says Staerk.

Researchers at the Institute for Mechanical Process Engineering of Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg are using imaging measurement methods to examine elementary processes such as spray drying of suspensions. Here, for example, drop collisions are recorded and analysed using cameras from PCO AG with a frame rate of approx. 2,500 frames/s and a resolution of 1084 x 1488 pixels. “We are discovering that in future developments there will be a need for an even higher resolution and a faster frame rate coupled with constantly high intrascene dynamics and low readout noise,” says Dr. Holst. A bottleneck currently forms at the image data transmission interface. According to Dr. Holst, Camera Link (full) is too slow by far. Other challenges in future will include a high data volume and new storage methods.

Experts see further growth potential and new application areas for machine vision systems in medical technology, e.g. the automation of laboratory analyses, as well as in super-resolution microscopy, DNA analyses and screening, fluorescence spectroscopy, traffic monitoring, traffic flow optimisation, security, aerial photography, and cartography. “We believe that GigE Vision will become more generally accepted. In the case of complex industrial television or monitoring, high definition will be the focal point in combination with compression technologies,” says Berg.

As the world’s leading platform for machine vision technologies, VISION 2010 will have a total exhibition area of 20,000 square metres in Halls 4 and 6 at the New Stuttgart Trade Fair Centre. The trade fair will present the latest components, complete systems and innovative solutions, including smart cameras, area scan cameras, line cameras, high-speed cameras, infrared cameras, vision sensors, frame grabbers, illumination systems, lasers, optics/lenses, optical filters, accessories, software libraries, application-specific machine vision systems, configurable machine vision systems, and solutions and services.

The varied accompanying programme will feature exciting trends and detailed information relating to industrial and non-industrial machine vision. The VDMA Machine Vision Group, the promotional supporter of VISION 2010, will also ensure that the trade fair is a success together with the European Machine Vision Association (EMVA) and the Automated Imaging Association (AIA).

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