After three demanding days on the show floor at VISION 2010—held in November in Stuttgart, Germany—it was clear that the event was a major success, a relief to the organizers and exhibitors, and a good omen for 2011. The show drew a record 6800 visitors and 323 exhibiting companies, with 44% of exhibitors coming from outside Germany, primarily from the US and South Korea. Better yet, many reported good to strong growth this year despite the recent recession.
Several camera vendors informed me that more than 60% of their business is from nonindustrial applications such as transportation, security, and medical applications. For these applications, global competition among camera vendors is vigorous.
Several competing vendors are German and continue to manufacture their cameras domestically despite the relatively high labor costs involved. Their plan is to develop innovative products that incorporate both custom and off-the-shelf CMOS image sensors, add greater software functionality, and explore embedded opportunities for their camera systems.
At VISION, a number of systems based on novel 3-D imaging cameras and techniques were on display. Many of these products and technologies will be reported in our next issue—so be sure to renew your subscription now! In the meantime, applications of this technology can be seen in this issue, beginning with an article by editor Andy Wilson that looks at how 3-D sensors allow complex shapes to be measured, especially in support of robotic systems.
Our cover story also shows how 3-D technology is being used in a system that performs 3-D modeling of molded parts, helping speed first article inspection for quality-control requirements. Finally, an article describing the design of a low-cost scanner shows how 3-D technology is being targeted toward the consumer market.
While Google may be a great search tool, human interaction still remains the most important means of developing new ideas, technologies, and systems. Good tradeshows such as VISION are inspiring as they allow engineers time from the office, lab, or factory to talk directly with suppliers, developers, and other experts. Indeed, we would all benefit if more engineering managers encourage their staff to get out and ask questions to fully leverage the opportunities that future technology will present.