Strength in numbers

In solving machine-vision-system design challenges, it is possible to creatively re-invent the wheel-but it’s not necessary.

Th 0602vsd Andywilson

In solving machine-vision-system design challenges, it is possible to creatively re-invent the wheel-but it’s not necessary.

Over the past ten years Vision Systems Design has published a number of very different articles describing the design of automated machine-vision and image-processing systems. In those articles, the authors have conveyed some of the problems of developing these systems and how they can be overcome by using off-the-shelf lighting, cameras, frame grabbers, software, robotics, and computer-based networking equipment.

During the last year, the magazine has also hosted two webcasts. The first, entitled “Camera Chaos,” was presented by Scott Israel, President of 1st Vision (Andover, MA, USA; and showed the differences between camera interfaces such as IEEE 1394, Camera Link, Gigabit Ethernet, and USB and which may be most suitable for any given application. The second, entitled “Lighting Lies and Lessons,” was presented by Robert Tait, an optical engineer with the GE Global Research Center (Niskayuna, NY, USA; and showed how different types and configurations of lighting can affect the imaging process in a series of examples that include engine assembly casings and fan turbine blades.

At the end of each webcast, those who registered for the live event were given the opportunity to pose questions to the presenters. While some of the questions were rather straightforward, others were more complex. Scott Israel fielded a number of questions from those listeners looking for Camera Link-to-fiber extenders, the differences between CMOS and CCD cameras, and where to obtain information on the latest standards such as IEEE 1394AP standard currently under development by the 1394 Trade Association (

After the presentation on lighting, one reader asked about how to inspect liquids in spinning pharmaceutical vials. Another posed a question on how to measure the black markings found on rubber products such as tires. Interestingly, in the December 2005 issue of Vision Systems Design (p. 29), the problem of vial particle inspection was adequately addressed by Gerald Budd, president of Phoenix Imaging (Livonia, MI, USA; And, in this issue, the task of inspecting black-on-black markings on tires is discussed by Tobias Berlin, managing director of The Comovia Group (Karlsruhe, Germany; “3-D vision system checks tires,” p. 31.

To help you better find the solutions to your problems, we have placed all of the business news, technical articles, webcasts, and new products that have been published over the past ten years on our Web site: Using the site’s search engine, for example, you can rapidly access the articles on pharmaceutical vial and tire inspection and better understand what has already been accomplished by other designers and system integrators building machine-vision and image-processing systems. In this way, we hope to help system engineers that may be new to the field avoid the trap of re-inventing the wheel. We hope you use the site to find useful information that will help you in your daily tasks.

Ask the experts

However, with the variety of applications in which machine vision is now being placed, it is impossible to have covered every possibility, even in ten years of publishing! So, if you watch a webcast or read a feature article and still have questions, you can post them on our website’s Feedback Forum, which you will find at the bottom of our home page. Already, a number of our readers have taken advantage of this new feature, and we hope you will join them.

With more than 30,000 readers of the publication alone, and a possible 30,000 additional Web site readers, someone may have already solved the problem you are facing. Should you post a question, you will be taking advantage of the combined expertise of thousands of your colleagues.

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Andy Wilson

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