With a focus on technologies for the military and homeland-security markets, the SPIE Defense & Security Symposium (D&SS) has become a very successful show and one at which both established defense contractors and startups can display innovative products. The exhibition and technical conference, held in Orlando, FL, from March 28 to 31, drew more than 5000 attendees and 330 exhibitors-up 13% from last year.
Imaging, and especially infrared (IR) imaging, has benefited from the growth and investment in these markets. Opportunities in the IR were a constant theme at the Photonics Market Opportunities Forum, held during D&SS. Most of the discussions centered on working with government agencies to develop technologies for combating attacks in Iraq, protecting harbors, or providing a defense against antiaircraft missiles. In his presentation at the forum, Garbor Fulop, president of IR market-research company Maxtech International (Fairfield, CT, USA; www.maxtech-intl.com), said that the annual worldwide military market for IR technology is about $3 billion, and growing annually 6%-10%.
More than military
The IR market is not strictly military, however, and commercial applications constitute a market of approximately $1 billion that is growing annually by 15%-20%. Garbor noted that the commercial market had been fostered in the mid-1990s by the military, which sought to benefit from economies of scale and lower prices. Currently the majority of IR applications is tied to electrical utility inspection, fire fighting, and surveillance, but a market for IR products in machine vision is beginning to emerge.
We have continued to expand our coverage of IR technologies and products, and this month editor Andy Wilson writes about IR lenses, which maximize IR camera performance. In this issue we also probe a different side of the electromagnetic spectrum with an article by Ronald Michaels of Industrial Analytics Corporation (Seymour, TN, USA; http://foamcity.com). He discusses the design of an x-ray vision system that inspects foam molds used to cast automobile engines. High-speed data recording, stereo imaging, and the automated inspection of printed-circuit boards and the labels on medical devices are also highlighted. For designers of these systems, IR can add another-and welcome-tool.
The Vision Show West takes place this month in San Jose, CA, from May 17 to 19. Sponsored by the Automated Imaging Association (Ann Arbor, MI, USA; www.machinevisiononline.com), it’s a great forum in which to learn about developments in vision technology and the latest products for vision systems. I hope to see you there.