While VISION 2018 is still eight months away, it isn’t too early to start thinking about some of the hot topics and trends that may be identified and featured at the show. Hyperspectral imaging (HSI), according to Messe Stuttgart, is near the top of the list of hot topics within the machine vision market, and is expected to help the market—which is on a steady upward growth path—expand even further.
"Hyperspectral systems offer a spectrum for each object pixel instead of a monochrome or color value compared to traditional machine vision systems," explains Markus Burgstaller, CEO of Perception Park. "Depending on the wavelength range and spectroscopic processing, high-precision color coordinates, chemical material properties, but also coating thickness information can be derived from the spectral data. The output information of such a camera has a significantly higher degree of complexity, but also allows greater diversity and selectivity in terms of manageable applications."
Applications that hyperspectral imaging technologies and components can be deployed into, according to various experts quoted in a VISION press release, include chemical imaging, waste sorting and separation, recycling and sorting of plastics, food and beverage inspection, and in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for applications such as precision farming, agricultural imaging, and inspection.
The list does not end there, but it provides a quick look at various ways hyperspectral imaging technology is being used across the globe today. While hyperspectral imaging has opened new paths where traditional vision systems could not meet the needs of users in the past, challenges remain. This includes high price points and that fact that the technology is not entirely easy to understand, and requires in-depth specialist knowledge in the area of spectroscopy, according to Messe Stuttgart.
"Hyperspectral Imaging does not work with the LED lights and illumination often used in machine vision, but with halogen lamps which emit a wide wavelength spectrum," explains Tim Huylebrouck, Product Manager at Stemmer Imaging. "There is still a need for suitable illumination here." In addition, the lights must have protective glass, e.g. in applications in the food industry, which cannot be made from actual glass in this industry because of safety standards. "However, other materials distort the spectrums. A few tricks are needed here"
Some within the industry, according to Messe Stuttgart, find themselves slightly hesitant to adopt hyperspectral imaging technology, because of the reasons above along with a lack of high-performance hyperspectral software and reliable spectral data. Despite this, many companies in machine vision are still working hard on developing the technology even further because they see it as being enormously relevant in the future of machine vision.
"In terms of other machine vision technologies, the trend is heading towards Embedded also for Hyperspectral Imaging," said Markus Burgstaller, CEO, Perception Park. "The cameras are becoming smaller and more affordable and in combination with new machine vision technologies will allow use in handheld devices like future smartphones in the foreseeable future."
He added, "With the addition of a pre-processor HSI cameras are also becoming ‘smart’ and make possible the pre-processing of the hyperspectral data volume as well as the extraction and transfer of the relevant information such as chemical or physical object information per object pixel. "This will lead to much greater acceptance thanks to the possible standard interfaces."
The team behind the world’s largest machine vision trade show, VISION, agree with the sentiment that hyperspectral imaging is one of the most exciting and important topics right now.
"HSI systems are extremely innovative and open up new applications for machine vision which up to now could not be realized with traditional systems. The topic will therefore play a key role at this year's VISION from 6 to 8 November 2018 in Stuttgart," said Florian Niethammer, VISION Team Leader at Messe Stuttgart. "In addition to numerous exhibitors, who will present their HSI products and solutions, several presentations within the framework of "Industrial VISION Days" also give interested visitors the opportunity to obtain information about this technology and generate ideas for possible applications."
Pictured: Stemmer Imaging hyperspectral imaging system