Military-imaging algorithms turn to machine vision

Algorithms developed for military applications such as target tracking usually remain proprietary and the sole property of government agencies.

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Algorithms developed for military applications such as target tracking usually remain proprietary and the sole property of government agencies. Now, however, military-imaging algorithms are being commercialized and offered in packages targeting machine-vision applications.

For example, Data Translation (Marlboro, MA) has re-engineered algorithms originally targeted for military applications and is offering them in its latest machine-vision software dubbed DT Vision Foundry (see image on p. 9). As an object-oriented machine-vision software package, DT Vision Foundry allows systems integrators to build prototype and production-ready applications in both graphical point-and-click and code-level development environments.

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RIGHT. The DT Vision Foundry light-invariant Search Tool can be used for such applications as searching for a specific device on a printed circuit board. In demonstrations at the company's headquarters, the tool operated satisfactorily under a range of lighting conditions.

According to company president and founder Fred Molinari, customers were demanding more than low-cost frame grabbers and drivers. "Today's systems integrators look at imaging problems from the top down, not bottom up," he says. "They want to understand if a problem can be solved with OEM software before committing to hardware such as frame grabbers, cameras, or expensive lighting," he says. As a result, Data Translation has shipped beta versions of the software to a few customers.

In a demonstration at the company's headquarters last month, Cliff Wilson, vice president of engineering demonstrated the Search Tool, a light-invariant algorithm within DT Vision Foundry, built specifically to train PC-based imaging systems to find known parts. The Search Tool performs well under a range of different lighting conditions (including severe glare and very dim) and could handle various part rotations up to ±15°. According to Wilson, other tools currently under development will allow parts to be inspected at any rotation, scale, and occlusion and will address other problem areas typically encountered by inspection systems on a manufacturing line. Systems developers wishing to evaluate the software for 30 days at no cost can obtain a copy from the company's Web site:

To support the software, Data Translation has planned a series of frame-grabber introductions. The first, the DT3131, is a single low-cost frame grabber that can be used to digitize a single active RS-170, NTSC/PAL, S-Video signal or three such signals using an on-board multiplexer. The second board, the DT3132, includes two active RS-170, NTSC/PAL, S-Video inputs, whereas the third board, the DT3133, includes three such inputs that can be multiplexed to allow a maximum of nine input channels. The DT Vision Foundry software also supports Data Translation's MACH Series of PCI frame grabbers.

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