Faces in Vision: Michael Cmok
XIMEA’s Michael Cmok discusses the machine vision industry, XIMEA’s cameras and plans for the future, and high potential growth areas.
Technical Sales Director, XIMEA GmbH Year and location founded: 1992 in Bratislava, Slovakia.
What are three interesting things about you that people might not know?(1) As a teenager, I started buying and fixing up used cars together with my dad and my brother. Up to now, the number of cars that we had owned is somewhere around 150 and still growing. (2) During my military service, I was a tank driver of a German Leopard 2. It was a lot of fun, but quite a useless skill today. (3) I still have a small collection of 80s era computers, mostly Commodores.
What are your top three favorite movies of all time? Back to the Future, Forest Gump and This Is Spinal Tap
What are your top three favorite TV shows of all time? Friends, Coupling, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
What are three of your favorite bands or musical acts?Pretty much everything from the 80s and 60s, skipping the disco racket in between.
What do you like to do in your free time? Playing guitar, swimming and scuba diving, driving everything that has an engine and gaming, of course.
How did you get into your field of expertise? I studied computer science with a focus on image processing and computer graphics. After graduation, I learned about the plans to establish XIMEA, for which an application engineer would be needed. It seemed like a good fit to me, so I ended up in this field and have transitioned further into technical sales and management from there.
What do you like about working in your field? First, the suppliers in the vision industry. At trade shows and conferences, it feels like a family gathering with lots of familiar faces, with everyone seemingly pulling together to shape the future, while leaving niches for each other to co-exist. Then there are the customers: you talk directly to engineers, who are very passionate about their work, but also about the technologies that we are all contributing, as those help them to create better applications and products, or simply aid to solve (some of) their problems.
What is your company’s core focus and mission?Our cameras are designed for ultimate usability, smallest size, lowest weight, highest speed and lasting quality … even if this sometimes means to leave the “standard” behind. Challenges that can’t be overcome within our standard product lines can be answered with our custom solutions.
What are you most excited about at your company right now and why?We have two trends showing at the moment: “More is more,” where having a PCI Express interface opens up paths to faster and/or higher resolution sensors–or simply have more cameras working reliably in one setup. But also sCMOS is a technology that is finally getting more traction.
In what markets or applications do you see the most growth? I would like to quote Erlich Bachman from HBO’s Silicon Valley: “It’s a VR play…That’s the frothiest space in the Valley right now. Nobody understands it but everyone wants in. Any idiot could walk into a room, utter the letters ‘v’ and ‘r’, and VC’s would hurl bricks of cash at them...” But seriously: there are lots of very interesting, applications in fields more or less related to AR/VR, such as photogrammetry.
How have market changes affected product development at your company?We are aggressively looking into new technologies to help move the field forward. Each market has their own challenges, and we try to address these through the latest technology and lots of flexibility in our designs.
What is one particularly interesting way you’ve seen your product or service deployed/utilized recently? We are restricted to disclose many of the exotic projects, but on the top of my head there is an inspection system for the Hyperloop and also microscopic rapid surface metrology, both applications where compactness, precision and speed are key.