Last month in San Jose, CA, more than 120 exhibitors displayed their latest products and components for machine-vision and image-processing applications at The Vision Show. Sponsored by the Automated Imaging Association (AIA; Ann Arbor, MI; www.automated-imaging.org), the show also featured a keynote address by Kenneth L. Schroeder, president and chief executive officer of KLA-Tencor Corp. (Milpitas, CA). Schroeder emphasized that vision technology is the key to success for semiconductor-equipment manufacturers. He added that future processing architectures would be massively parallel, processing speeds would soon reach 400 Mpixels/s, and system software and mechanisms would be more tightly integrated. Schroeder projected that chip interconnections would move from aluminum to copper and optics and sensor developments would be accelerated.
On the exhibitor floor, numerous vision products were introduced, especially traditional front-end-system core products such as lenses, lighting equipment, cameras, and frame grabbers, as well as various boards, modules, and software tools. Attendee activity seemed to ebb and flow, but many exhibitors were satisfied with attendee quality, experience, and interest.
As for frame grabbers, Foresight Imaging (Chelmsford, MA) presented four new models of its I—Series frame grabbers—I-60, I-25 MV, I-50 MV, and I-60MV. These boards deliver pixel input rates of 25 to 60 MHz, 1024 x 1024-pixel resolutions, pixel jitter of ±1.0 ns, 59-dB signal-to noise ratio, 10-bit analog-to-digital conversion, and various machine-vision and camera input/output controls. Data Translation (Marlboro, MA) displayed its MV Series of single, double, and triple frame-grabber boards for the PCI bus. The DT3131 single board contains one active and three multiplexed inputs to handle up to three RS-170/CCIR, NTSC/PAL cameras or one S-video and two RS-170/CCIR, NTSC/PAL cameras.
Integral Technologies Inc. (Indianapolis. IN) featured its FlashPoint 3D AGP and PCI video frame gabber and the FlashBus MV PCI video frame-grabber line: the Pro, Plus, and Lite boards. They offer different groups of analog video inputs, I/O and camera controls, and video performance. Matrox Imaging (Dorval, Quebec, Canada) introduced its Matrox Orion frame grabber. This board can capture standard analog composite and S-video in NTSC/PAL formats and composite RS-170/CCIR video formats, includes analog-to-digital converters for capturing component RGB in NTSC/PAL video formats, and provides two independent CRT controllers.
In the camera area, Panasonic Security & Digital Imaging Co. (Secaucus, NJ) offered three new cameras. The GP-MF852PT progressive-scan camera includes 60-frame camera functions at double speed. The GP-MF802 full-frame progressive-scan camera offers 480 lines of horizontal resolution at 6.5 lux. The two-piece, cylindrical-shaped GP-US542 camera features three 1/4-in. CCDs, 768 x 494 pixels, 10-bit digital-signal processing, 700 lines of horizontal resolution, and a minimum illumination of 15 lux at ƒ/2.8 at 18 dB.
Eastman Kodak Co. (San Diego, CA) introduced the ES 310 MegaPlus digital imaging CCD camera, which provides 648 x 484 pixels, 60% effective fill factor, 85 frames/s, NTSC or PAL and RS-422 ports, and a 2 x 2.7 x 6-in. size. Cohu Inc. (San Diego, CA) unveiled its 4920 Peltier-cooled monochrome CCD camera with a 6.4 x 4.8-mm image area, 768 x 494 pixels, 1/50 to 1/10,000-s shutter speeds, and a -20°C to 45°C operating temperature range. IVP Inc. (Woodinville, WA) displayed its multisensor MAPP smart camera that can obtain RGB color, full 3-D shape, and laser scatter data with a single sensor. Point Grey Research (Vancouver, BC, Canada) demonstrated its Digiclops stereo vision camera with three progressive-scan 1/3-in. CCDs. This camera provides 640 x 480-pixel, real-time, 3-D digital imaging and IEEE-1394 digital control, interfacing, and communications.
An unusual 3-D vision system was demonstrated by Holometric Inc. (Escondido, CA). Essentially a computer-controlled scanning laser-based radar, the patented system contains a GaAlAs 820-nm laser, a Coreco LPG-132 digital frame grabber, an Industrial Computer Source 133-MHz computer, C++ software embedded in Windows NT, and a photodiode detector. It can make 500,000 measurements in x, y, and z at an accuracy of ±0.1 in. over a field of view of 160° x 50°.
Stocker & Yale (Salem, NH) released two high-frequency (25-kHz) fluorescent ring lights. The Model 5 features 5100K daylight fluorescent lamp and a 0.984-in. bore. The Superlite 18S provides a 4-in. bore and a 6500K daylight fluorescent lamp. CorkOpt Ltd. (Cork, Ireland) has developed red (645-nm) LED illumination boards, as well as boards for blue through infrared wavelengths, for its CRL series of ring lights and CLL series of line-illuminator modules that contain 100 chips on-board. CCS Inc. (Waltham, MA) unveiled its new line of LED illuminators, light guides, ring lights, and coaxial-surface luminaires.
In the imaging-software area, Matrox Imaging (Dorval, Quebec, Canada) announced Matrox Inspector 3.0, an interactive Windows Visual Basic for Applications scripting environment for image capture, processing, analysis, display, and archiving based on the Matrox Imaging Library software development toolkit. Coreco Inc. (St. Laurent, Quebec, Canada) released its FastSeries set of MMX-optimized C-callable vision libraries for object recognition, alignment, barcode reading, and web inspection. HexaVision Technologies Inc. (Sainte Foy, Quebec, Canada) demonstrated its HexSight, Version 1.2, geometric object-location vision software with high tolerance to occlusions, shading variations, low contrast, and poor edges and high accuracy regardless of orientation and scale for the development of machine-vision applications. Media Cybernetics LP (Silver Spring, MD) released Scope-Pro v4.0, a plug-in module tool for its Image-Pro Plus V4.0 imaging software that controls automated microscope movements, filter wheels, and automated stages, as well as supports additional microscope types.
Several nonexhibitor products were also introduced. Spectrum Signal Processing (Burnaby, BC, Canada) described its Solano ASIC, which forms the underlying basis of the company's quicComm C6202/C6203 digital-signal-processing (DSP) architecture for PCI, CompactPCI, and VME systems. This architecture provides inter/intraboard communications between DSPs, DSP-to-host, and DSP-to-host at I/O rates exceeding 1.6 Gbytes/s in a single slot. PixelCam Inc. (Campbell, CA) demonstrated its patent-pending single-chip 1280 x 1034-pixel CMOS image sensor that can convert color images into 10-bit digital pixels at up to 102 frames/s. This sensor can be programmed on-the-fly to select between resolution, frame rate, and bit width. Vitana Corp. (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) launched PixeLINK, a line of 1394-based interface imaging boards and firmware for OEMs to embed in cameras, camcorders, and PC peripherals.
George Kotelly,Executive Editor