Only improbable

Impossible” can be the first reaction of some people to challenges that do not fit within a familiar framework or to which typical solutions cannot be applied.

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Impossible” can be the first reaction of some people to challenges that do not fit within a familiar framework or to which typical solutions cannot be applied. Perhaps such folks should take a lesson from the Roman author Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.) who wrote, “How many things are looked upon as quite impossible until they have been actually effected?” This observation appeared in his encyclopediaNatural History, which discussed everything from mathematics to zoology, pharmacology to architecture. Of course, the encyclopedia didn’t mention machine vision-but the sentiments still hold true.

When a major supplier of information-storage and management systems needed an inspection system to check the integrity of backplane pins, the “impossible” became an opportunity. At least that was the attitude adopted by PVI Systems (Niantic, CT, USA;, which, as editor Andy Wilson writes in our cover story, designed and built a unique vision system using a motor-driven, embedded CCD camera to check the connectors. Developing what had seemed, in the words of PVI Systems, “next to impossible,” has the added benefit of enabling the system integrator to develop a new product line that now can be applied to other electronic inspection tasks.

Impossible applications can also be enabled by new technologies and new products. An article written by Austin Richards of Oculus Photonics (Goleta, CA, USA; describes how ultraviolet imaging can open previously inaccessible regions of the electromagnetic spectrum to machine-vision applications. Advances in UV LEDs, laser sources, CCD cameras, and lenses enable integrators to design new systems that, for example, inspect CD jewel cases for otherwise difficult-to-detect defects and find stains or coating irregularities.

Similarly, advances in the fundamental technologies for motion control are enabling the creation of positioning systems with new dimensions of accuracy and repeatability. Our Product Focus article in this issue looks atx-ypositioning systems and how this new and previously unobtainable degree of accuracy can be achieved by vision systems that incorporate piezoelectric positioning, frequently in applications for the semiconductor industry.


The word “impossible” is not something that should be said to the machine-vision system integrators who are mentioned in-or read-this issue. Especially, the word cannot be applied to the subject of our Business Views interview, Ganesh Deveraj. After getting an advanced degree and working abroad, Deveraj returned home to found Soliton Technologies (Bangalore, India; Starting as a provider of system-integration services, Soliton now offers its own line of vision products targeted at the emerging Indian market and has developed a network of system-integration partners. Deveraj is proving that, while helping to create a machine-vision industry in India’s rapidly growing economy may be difficult to effect, it is certainly not impossible.

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W. Conard Holton
Editor in Chief

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