Vision/imaging see hidden features

Despite visual barriers, machine-vision and imaging-processing systems are detecting camouflaged features in a variety of applications. These systems are finding retinal damage in the human eye; measuring pipeline blockages, thicknesses ...

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Despite visual barriers, machine-vision and imaging-processing systems are detecting camouflaged features in a variety of applications. These systems are finding retinal damage in the human eye; measuring pipeline blockages, thicknesses, and corrosions; reading license-plate numerals under a range of lighting conditions and graphical overlays; and providing faster speeds and higher resolutions with the development of smaller but more powerful integrated interface chips.

An imaging system that promises to eliminate invasive procedures for detecting retinal damage in the human eye is undergoing validation tests by ophthalmologists. As reported by contributing editor Larry Curran, the new system builds stacks of spectral images or interferometers for all imaged pixels, which are reconstructed in a digital map to show abnormalities in retinal tissue (see p. 30).

Several state highway agencies are installing traffic imaging systems to automate the payment of tolls by imaging license-plate numbers using optical character- recognition techniques. Says Mike Muehlemann, president of Illumination Technologies, these systems eliminate the toll collector, improve traffic flow, and increase revenues (see p. 34).

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To overcome the limitations of conventional radiographic-film imaging systems, several European companies have jointly developed a portable, real-time radioscopy system for inspecting steel pipes and welding. This system, described by contributing editor David Boothroyd, integrates a custom-built image detector coupled to off-the-shelf frame grabbers and image-processing software that delivers short exposure times, 3-D quantification of detected effects, and reduced radiation (see p. 33).

To help system designers, semiconductor manufacturers are delivering integrated circuits (ICs) to replace discrete components, says editor Andrew Wilson. For example, they are producing analog front-end ICs as interfaces to both linescan and area-array imagers that can perform analog-to-digital, digital-to-analog, and operational amplifier functions, among others (see p. 37).

George Kotelly Editor in Chief
georgek@pennwell.com

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