The imaging experience
In his 1957 novel Homo Faber, the great Swiss novelist Max Frisch (1911-1991) wrote that technology is “the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.
In his 1957 novel Homo Faber, the great Swiss novelist Max Frisch (1911-1991) wrote that technology is “the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.” This idea of technological omnipotence-the human belief that everything is possible and technology allows human beings to control everything-was one of the themes of Frisch’s books. Although deeply skeptical, the author could have only imagined the innovations in machine-vision and image-processing technology that have taken place since his death.
The articles in this issue show just how sophisticated cameras, lighting, frame grabbers, and software are being deployed by system integrators, challenging Frisch’s disposition to incredulity. Indeed, the innovations in packaging systems described in our series of cover articles demonstrate that system integrators still find the greatest rewards and end users the greatest benefits deploying classic machine-vision inspection and tracking systems. As editor Andy Wilson writes, innovations in electronics-in this case PC/104 frame grabbers-are now enabling new design to tackle demanding, embedded applications.
But deploying such machine-vision systems requires years of experience, as system-integrator Mike Lawn at ICS Inex Inspection Systems points out in our Business Views interview. Providing value and usefulness in system design comes from hands-on experience many years in the making. For integrators of both industrial and nonindustrial machine-vision technology, experience is what comes from full consideration of the real-world problems of the customer.
And yet it is also possible to think about technological developments in a more philosophical manner. While technology amplifies our experience, even as it stands between us and the physical world, the latest imaging and machine-vision products allow us to see further, smaller, and faster than a human eye. We can also detect patterns, identify defects or threats, and use this information to control machines or production processes.
NEW REALMS OF EXPERIENCE
Such technological developments are broadening the market for image-processing and machine-vision components-a fact reflected in this and future issues of Vision Systems Design. With the New Year, we are introducing a series of feature articles to highlight what is sometimes referred to as nontraditional or nonmanufacturing machine vision. According to the Automated Imaging Association, the market opportunities are significant for traditional machine-vision companies in these emerging fields, which include security and biometrics, medical imaging, lab automation, and transportation.
This month, our series looks at applications in life sciences, specifically as described by contributing editor David Lieberman, who writes about a semi-automated “smart” microcopy system that quantifies cell characteristics for pathologists. Future articles will probe topics such as innovative automotive applications, defense and security imaging, 3-D and ultrahigh-speed imaging, x-ray and infrared imaging, and intelligent transportation.
W. Conard Holton
Editor in Chief