Finding the right information

For several years Vision Systems Design has reported on the latest developments in image-processing systems for the scientific, industrial, medical, and military/aerospace markets. To that end, our editors and contributing editors work diligently at exploring the engineering-design decisions needed to bring the next generation of vision and imaging systems to culmination. One approach used to obtain up-to-date design and development information involves attending trade shows that focus on the la

Finding the right information

Andy Wilson

Editor at Large

andyw@pennwell.com

For several years Vision Systems Design has reported on the latest developments in image-processing systems for the scientific, industrial, medical, and military/aerospace markets. To that end, our editors and contributing editors work diligently at exploring the engineering-design decisions needed to bring the next generation of vision and imaging systems to culmination. One approach used to obtain up-to-date design and development information involves attending trade shows that focus on the latest OEM vision products.

At one recent trade show, a reader inquired about how to get information relevant to the design of an imaging system. What he wanted was a textbook, handbook, tutorial, or other printed or electronic material that explained all the lighting, lenses, cameras, frame grabbers, software, monitors, operating systems, and electronic/optical principles and trade-offs needed to make a knowledgeable design decision.

A difficult effort

Unfortunately, as imaging designers will testify, obtaining such information is a difficult and time-consuming effort. Although standard technical books do cover specific subjects, such as algorithms for histogram equalization, Fourier analysis, and morphology, they often present them in obscure terms. That is, they merely reiterate the mathematical descriptions--not the benefits--of using such algorithms. Other textbooks, which describe video broadcast, digital imaging, and communications in medicine, do not cover the subject in a single volume. Instead, they scatter pertinent details among different disciplines, making it harder for those wishing to obtain a comparative overview to find an easy reference.

When it comes to other more practical aspects of machine vision and image processing, such as lighting, most designers refer to World Wide Web sites of leading suppliers. While much of this information is adequate, it is usually still incomplete in depth and usefulness. Indeed, over the past 15 years, image-processing algorithms have changed little, including the data available in mathematical textbooks.

Textbook needed

What is needed is a detailed but practical textbook on machine-vision and image-processing design. This book should describe the differences between optical and electronic systems and encompass every specification of every associated standard. Moreover, it should clarify the important aspects of lighting and how the choice of a proper device can reduce requirements of host processors and frame grabbers. More important, however, the book must put mathematics into perspective, emphasize real-world applications, and spell out the benefits of automating a vision process. By doing so, developers of next-generation imaging systems would immediately benefit from real-world knowledge.

Unfortunately, developing such a textbook would require a vast amount of knowledge culled from numerous disparate sources. However, thanks to the power of the Web, such disparate information could be pulled together rapidly, providing newcomers (and experts) with a wealth of information available at one location. At Vision Systems Design, we are doing our part to increase this knowledge base by placing issues as they appear in print onto our Web site at www.vision-systems-design.com. Our goal is to enable readers to obtain systems-integration information in a timely manner.

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