Looking forward to looking back

Any nostalgic feelings for the past may be better put aside with the understanding that the future will only bring with it more exciting technologies, products, and applications.

Andywilson 1205vsd

Many years ago I decided to impress my fiancée with a paid trip to New York. Determined to amaze, I opted to take her to Michael's Pub where we were guaranteed that Mr. Woody Allen would be playing clarinet. After a short cab ride, we were finally seated at a table for two to view Mr. Allen's performance.

Urged by my betrothed to obtain his autograph, I reluctantly approached the stage. Finding myself without paper, I drew a checkbook from my wallet for Mr. Allen to sign. Rather than sign the check at the large blank space at the bottom right of the check, he signed it on the line "Pay to the Order of" line. Proudly I took it back to my fiancée and, needless to say, the night progressed very well from that point onward.

Today, Mr. Allen may be 30 years older but he is still just as talented. In fact, he just received an Academy Award for his original screenplay ofMidnight in Paris—a rather wonderful romantic comedy on what life could be like if we had lived in distant pasts.

In the film, the main character, played by Owen Wilson, is magically taken into the Paris of the 1920s, an era he idolizes. Somewhat later, both he and his traveling companion are transported to the 1890s where, much to his dismay, Owen discovers that this is the era she most admires. Delivering the line "These people don't have any antibiotics!" Wilson realizes that despite his nostalgic feelings for the past, it is better to accept the present for what it is.

Many who have been employed in themachine-vision and image-processing business for more than 30 years may often also feel nostalgic. Some years ago, for example, on a visit to Stemmer Imaging, I was shown one of the world's first frame grabbers. Consisting of multiple PCB cards arranged in a very large chassis, the $40,000 frame grabber was a thing of beauty.

Unfortunately, it could only capture one RS-170 analog video frame. With such a price tag, applications of the unit were rather limited to university research where apparently such prices were justifiable.

Today, it is possible to capture multiple high-resolution digital images and perform highframe-rate image processing at a fraction of the cost. With such advances, thousands of relatively low-cost systems have found uses in wide-ranging applications such asmedical imaging, surveillance, factory automation, and food inspection.

Just as the discovery of antibiotics has saved millions of lives and enhanced their quality, so are these machine-vision systems ensuring that the highest quality of products are delivered to customers. Realizing this, any nostalgic feelings for the past may be better put aside with the understanding that the future will only bring with it more exciting technologies, products, and applications.

Andywilson 1205vsdAndy Wilson, Editor in Chief" title="Andy Wilson, Editor in Chief">Andy Wilson, Editor in Chief
andyw@pennwell.com
More Vision Systems Issue Articles
Vision Systems Articles Archives
More in Home