Vision shows forecast growth

Expectations exceeded at Vision Show West

George Kotelly, Editor in Chief
georgek@pennwell.com

Appearances were deceiving last November at Vision Show West 2002, sponsored by the Automated Imaging Association (www.machinevisiononline.org) and held at the Santa Clara, CA, Convention Center. Floor traffic at times seemed light, but more than 2500 attendees demonstrated high interest in the new products, technologies, and applications shown by nearly 80 exhibitors of vision systems, cameras, frame grabbers, lighting devices, lenses, image processors, and software.

Moreover, an undercurrent rippled through the exhibit hall on all three show days. Most exhibitors were pleased with their show results and genuinely satisfied with the attendees because they were inquisitive about new products, serious about performance specifications, and professed immediate needs for machine vision. As a result, a general consensus of exhibitors indicated that business growth for machine vision is expected to be stimulated early next year.

In addition, numerous first-time visitors were observed, and foreign visitors abounded. The Vision Systems Design booth attracted professionals from Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Italy, and Singapore, among others. During five tutorial and nine conference sessions, speakers presented novel techniques for lighting and optics; machine-vision algorithms; camera, sensor, and infrared advances; and biometrics, security, 3-D, semiconductor, and electronics applications.

Camera Link shines

The main thrust of many camera exhibitors was adherence to standards, most notably the Camera Link camera-to-frame-grabber interface specification. Camera Link camera exhibitors included Adimec (www.adimec.com), which showed its Adimec-1000m, 1600m, and 2000m megapixel cameras.

Dalsa (www.dalsa.com) also showed a Camera Link camera, the Dalstar 1M75SA CMOS area camera, an addition to its Stop Action (SA) family. The camera features a 1M-pixel resolution and a 75-frame/s rate. Like the 1M28-SA released earlier last year, the 1M75 features a Linlog sensor that increases intrascene dynamic range up to 120 dB.

IO Industries (www.ioindustries.com) announced support for Dalsa's P2-42-8k camera with its DVR Express camera interface board. The camera has dual Camera Link Base outputs and can be recorded to hard disk at full speed from two DVR Express camera interface boards. Full-speed recording is achieved at a line rate of 18 kHz and a resolution of 8192 pixels.

JAI (www.jai.com) demonstrated its CV-M7+ color and CV-M4+ monochrome megapixel cameras. These cameras feature JAI's serial interface protocol, based on short ASCII commands, and LVDS or Camera Link interfaces. They provide 1392 × 1040-pixel resolution and use CDS techniques to achieve double-speed readout. The company also announced an intelligent camera family called ThinkEye that was developed in conjunction with Stemmer Imaging GmbH (www.stemmer-imaging.de) and Asentics (Siegen, Germany). The first member of the product family, the TE-100, is a PowerPC-based camera with a resolution of 659 × 494 pixels, a built-in Web browser, and Stemmer's Common Vision Blox software.

Through a European partnership with Tokyo Electronic Industry Co. Ltd. (www.teli.co.jp), NET USA (www.net-usa-inc.com) offers cameras with remote heads and OEM board cameras. The company's latest product is the CSB4000CL—a CMOS black-and-white camera with a global shutter and a Camera Link interface.

The Pulnix America (www.pulnix.com) PC-640CL camera also uses a CMOS imager. Designed with a global shutter, it controls camera gain, shutter, and subsampling via a Camera Link interface.

grabbing at camera link

To interface to Camera Link cameras, many vendors offer Camera Link frame grabbers. Active Silicon (www.active-silicon.com) Phoenix frame grabbers, for example, support the 64-bit, 66-MHz PCI bus and are available in Camera Link and LVDS versions. They also support the 32-bit, 33-MHz PCI bus, offer a burst rate of 533 Mbytes/s, support asynchronous capture from two independent digital cameras, and are compatible with Win98/NT/2000/XP, Mac OS X, Linux, VxWorks, and Solaris OSs.

Coreco Imaging (www.imaging.com) demonstrated its X64-CL Series line of Camera Link frame grabbers for the PCI 64 bus and asynchronous image acquisition from multiple cameras. These frame grabbers are built around an ACU-Plus acquisition control unit and a data-transfer engine. The company also announced an analog frame grabber for the 32-bit PCI bus dubbed PC2-Vision. With an on-board triple-channel ADC, the board can accommodate up to six monochrome or two RGB cameras.

Datacube (www.datacube.com) featured the MaxRevolution frame grabber for the PCI bus developed for image acquisition from Camera Link-compatible digital linescan or area-scan cameras. With support for up to eight camera taps, each running at up to 85 MHz, the board can gather digital data at 680 Mpixels/s.

The Epix (www.epixinc.com) PIXCI CL3SD frame grabber and the Basler A504k (www.baslerweb.com) camera capture images with 1280 × 1024-pixel resolution at 500 frames/s. Windowing allows reduced resolutions at rates up to 16,000 frames/s. The PIXCI CL3SD frame grabber for the 32-bit PCI bus operates in a Pentium III or 4 computer. Image sequences are captured in up to 4 Gbytes of on-board synchronous DRAM, and after capture, can be transferred to computer memory or to another PCI bus target.

The Euresys (www.euresys.com) Domino Iota entry-level frame grabber suits a single-tap monochrome analog camera. Capable of supporting cameras with a resolution of 1300 × 1300 pixels, the frame grabber features a pixel clock, PLL locking, and TTL I/O lines.

Integral Technologies (www.integraltech.com) showed its FlashBus Prism, a frame grabber that uses the Philips (www.semiconductors.philips.com) TriMedia video processor and a 16-Mbyte SDRAM frame buffer to provide smooth interpolated scaling, hardware overlay, video rotation, and video output functions. The company also showed its latest high-level programming library, Integral IVL, of core machine-vision and image-processing routines.

The Matrox Imaging (www.matrox.com/imaging) Odyssey Xpro and Odyssey XCL vision processors integrate off-the-shelf and custom technologies in a PC. The Odyssey Xpro features the Motorola G4 PowerPC embedded microprocessor, running at 1 GHz. The PowerPC, combined with Matrox's Oasis processing and router ASIC, delivers more than 130 BOPS. The single-slot Odyssey Xpro also offers more than 5 Gbytes/s of memory bandwidth, up to 1 Gbyte of DDR SDRAM memory, and up to 2 Gbytes/s of external I/O bandwidth. The company also announced its Helios PCI-X based frame grabber family that includes versions with Camera Link interfaces.

Software, too

Supporting its FastSeries family of frame grabbers and accelerated frame grabbers, the Alacron (www.alacron.com) FastSeries Object Imaging Library offers an image-and vector-processing library for the TriMedia, AltiVec, and x86 processors. The library is a collection of templates and optimized routines for image and vector processing in C++

BitFlow (www.bitflow.com) demonstrated its R64-CL Camera Link frame-grabber board with the Dalsa Pirahna2 four-tap linescan Camera Link camera. With each channel running at 40 MHz, the total output data rate of this camera-board combination into host memory is 160 Mbytes/s. The board features a 64-bit/66-MHz PCI bus interface; dual Base, Medium, or Full configuration Camera Link interfacing; the company's FlowThru architecture for real-time acquisition and data transfer with no latency or CPU usage; multiple user-programmable I/O options; and a Software Development Kit.

Also shown was the R3-PMC-CL PCI mezzanine card board, which features a Base configuration Camera Link interface, FlowThru architecture, multiple I/O options, and support for most Camera Link cameras. The company operated its Image Warp image-analysis software on the company's R3-PCI-CL camera interface and various Camera Link cameras from Basler, Perkin Elmer, Pulnix, and SVS Vistek. This universal image editing, processing, and anlysis software package combines a graphic development environment, image-analysis toolset, programming development techniques, and compatibility with the company's entire product line via an intelligent driver. It allows real-time processing and display of live video.

Data Translation (www.datx.com) announced the DT3145, a PCI-based Camera Link frame grabber that can be used with DT Vision Foundry 3.5 image-processing, measurement, analysis, and data-transfer tools to create production-ready inspection programs and customized vision tools. DT Vision Foundry includes a 2-D data-matrix tool that analyzes rotated 2-D barcodes, even if images are distorted, blurred, or water damaged, with processing times of 2 to 9 ms.

Also developed for gauging applications, EasyGauge from Euresys (www.eureys.com) relies on subpixel edge detection and least-squares fitting algorithms to determine position, orientation, curvature, and size of manufactured parts. It also supports the adjustment of parallel sides, providing a means of measuring the thickness of flat or bent objects and corner location.

MVTec (www.mvtec.com) announced that Halcon 6.0 supports the GINGA++ frame grabber from LinX and the MaxRevolution frame grabber from Datacube.

National Instruments (www.ni.com) announced Vision Builder for Automated Inspection software that allows production test engineers to create complete machine-vision applications in a development environment that integrates image acquisition, machine-vision inspection, decision making, and I/O control into a manufacturing test application.

Lighting the way

Lighting and illumination also grabbed attention at Vision Show West.Advanced Illumination (www.advancedillumination.com) introduced a 100-mm axial diffuse illuminator that is available in visible and infrared wavelengths, as well as an RGB version.

CCS America (www3.ccs-inc.co.jp) introduced its HLV and HLV-NR LED spotlights that can replace halogen lighting in machine-vision applications. The HLV-27 is the first offering of a product family that features a spotlight weighing 50 g; it can be inserted into a coaxial lens body tube.

Edmund Industrial Optics (www.edmundoptics.com) added to its line of LED illumination products with a range of diffuse lights, diffuse axial lights, ringlights, spotlights, line lights, and several products designed to provide backlighting and darkfield illumination. An RGB option allows the intensity of the red, green, and blue LEDs to be individually controlled.

Schott-Fostec (www.us.schott.com) showed its range of custom and standard fiberoptic illumination components that includes ringlights, backlights, and LED light-heads; the SC-2100 intelligent LED controller allows user control of light heads for stabilized light output.

Support products

Cohu Electronics (www.cohu-cameras.com) featured its 1200 Series alignment imager/reader camera designed for component alignment and placement, test and inspection, and OCR. The CCD is a 768 × 494-pixel monochrome sensor, and the miniature lens is customized to the customer's specific application.

Eastman Kodak Image Sensor Solutions Division (www.kodak.com) showed an integrated 1/2-in. megapixel CMOS image sensor. Features include integrated timing, control, analog signal processing, and a 10-bit ADC. Each pixel on the sensor is individually addressable, allowing users to control WOI panning and zooming, subsampling, resolution, exposure, and gain via a two-pin I2C interface.

FLIR Systems (www.flir.com) demonstrated its E-Series line of thermography cameras that resemble a flashlight in appearance, weigh 1.5 lb, and feature a built-in color display, temperature measurement, and image storage. Images can be downloaded to a computer through a USB port.

Hamamatsu (usa.hamamatsu.com) showed the ORCA-HR, a 4000 × 2624-pixel digital camera that uses an interline CCD chip with no mechanical shutter. In addition to its 10-Mpixel resolution, the camera's dynamic range of 12 bits allows for low-light-level applications.

Among the color cameras on hand from Hitachi Denshi America (www.hdal.com) were the CCD HV-D30, the KP-D20A/B DSP, and the HV-D27 color, three-CCD remote-head. The HV-D30 is a three-CCD color camera featuring a DSP with 12-bit A/D conversion and a digital encoder. It features a field-on-demand mode for precise image capture.

Ipd (www.goipd.com), the intelligent products division of Coreco Imaging (www.imaging.com), announced forthcoming vision appliances, machine-vision software, vision systems, and intelligent cameras. The first of these, iGauge, is a remote camera head coupled with an intelligent remote frame grabber/processor targeted at optical measurement applications, including point positions, lines, angles, hole diameter, and roundness.

With the DX 10-1394a, Kappa (www.kappa-vision.com) unveiled a digital color camera for industrial applications based on IEEE 1394 (FireWire) transfer technology. The camera suits industrial endoscopy and image processing and complies with 1394a-2000. All camera parameters can be controlled via the universal high-speed bus that can transfer 30 frames/s at 640 × 480-pixel resolution. The DX 10 1394a is equipped with two six-pin 1394 ports and allows up to 15 cameras to be connected in sequence.

Leutrek Vision (www.leutrek.com) showed backlights from Phlox (www.phlox-gc.com) that feature standard backlight dimensions of 2 × 2, 4 × 4, and 8 × 8 in. with a luminance greater than 10,000 cd/m2, 8000 cd/m2, and 4500 cd/m2, respectively. The company also showed a range of frame grabbers and embedded image processors, including the LVmPC Series, a modular micro PC based on a 933-MHz Pentium III or Celeron CPU, and the PicPort-Pro-CL and PicProdigy-CL frame grabbers with a 64-bit, 66-MHz PCI interface.

The Nano-Or (www.nano-or.com) 3DScope comprises an optical imaging system, a CCD camera, and supporting algorithms and offers quantitative metrology and wavefront analysis accurate to several nanometers. 3DScope uses an interferometric approach that measures a variety of materials and provides nanometric resolution along the z-axis.

Photon Vision Systems (www.photon-vision.com) announced a 1.3-Mpixel IEEE 1394 OEM imaging module that integrates a 1.3-Mpixel CMOS image sensor and an FPGA-based processing and interface board. This board can be programmed to perform image-processing tasks in real time, eliminating the need for a host CPU in some applications. Additional programmability can be accomplished through the IEEE 1394 interface, which integrates a CPU and additional memory.

Photron (www.photron.com) APX features antiblooming and megapixel resolution, and provides full resolution up to 2000 frames/s and reduced resolution to 100,000 frames/s. It comes with a 20-ft cable or with an optional 52-ft camera cable, or as a single-piece unit with the camera and processor combined into a compact housing.

Impact from PPT Vision (www.pptvision.com) is a machine-vision microsystem that features digital cameras and lighting components. With an on-board processor running Inspection Builder software, the system can be customized for inspection tasks.

Redlake MASD (www.redlake.com) introduced a new, high-speed Camera Link digital camera-the Megaplus ES 1020. This megapixel camera offers a 48-frame/s rate in a compact package. Armed with Kodak CCD technology, the ES 1020 accommodates a multitude of color and monochrome vision applications, including semiconductor and electronics inspection, microscopy, and particle image velocimetry.

Sony Visual Imaging's XC-555 (www.sony.com/videocameras) is a 1/2-in. type IT CCD color camera suited for machine vision and remote monitoring. Its design eliminates the need for a CCU, allowing the XC-555 camera to be installed in space-restricted areas.

StockerYale's (www.stockeryale.com) IL series of industrial fluorescent linear lighting fixtures suits harsh industrial environments. The fixtures are available in 4-, 6-, 8-, and 13-W lamp configurations and accept standard window options including diffusers, UV windows, polarizers, and filters to meet application requirements.

The VC2028 and VC2038 smart cameras from Vision Components (www.vision-comp.com) ship with Version 5 OS, a multitasking operating system that can execute several functions in parallel using 1-ms time slices.

Optimism reigns at VISION 2002

Business enthusiasm permeated the exhibitor floor at the November VISION 2002 trade fair in Stuttgart, Germany. With about 4420 visitors and 164 exhibitors, the Trade Fair for Machine Vision and Identification Technologies confirmed its position as the leading show in the industry. According to Messe Stuttgart (www.messe-stuttgart.de), the operator of the fair, 50% of the visitors at VISION 2002 came from the electrical-engineering and electronics industry, a 6% increase compared to 2001. This demonstrates that the electrical engineering and electronics markets are key growth areas with an expected rising demand for machine-vision systems and components. About 16% of the visitors came from mechanical engineering companies, 11% from the automotive industry, and 7% from the automotive components supply industry. An increased numbers of visitors also came from the packaging, pharmaceutical, and medical technology sectors.

Visitors were primarily interested in machine-vision technologies (59%), components and measuring equipment (43%), and applications (25%), based on multiple choices. Furthermore, 81% of visitors had a direct influence on purchasing and procurement decisions, 29% were responsible for these decisions, and 61% rated the fair as important for their industries.

Show information enforced the belief of German industry analysts that the market potential of the European machine-vision market is still increasing despite the current global economic downturn. For example, according to Enis Ersü, chairman of the executive committee of the machine vision group in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA; www.vdma.org), industry sales are projected to rise by 15% to EUR 755 million in 2002, compared to EUR 565 million in 2001. In addition, the high demand by visitors for product information supported indications that the market would expand soon.

A majority of exhibitors (88%) presented new products, technologies, and applications. Moreover, 95% of exhibitors were expecting satisfactory to very good business after the exhibit. Approximately 28% of the exhibitors came from outside Germany, and they expressed high satisfaction with trade-fair activities and visitor professionalism.

Exhibitor comments

Axel Dancker, chairman of the board of Basler AG (Ahrensburg, Germany; www.baslerweb.com), said,"Visitors were interested in our new products. We held some excellent technical discussions and forged a large number of good contacts on specific projects."

Christian Demant, managing director of NeuroCheck (Remseck, Germany; www.neurocheck.com), said, "We had an above-average number of visitors. It was noticeable that the prior knowledge of visitors is now much greater than four years ago. In our opinion, the clear trend is still towards FireWire technology. Because it is becoming increasingly easier to use this new technology and it does away with the need for a frame grabber, the overall importance of software will increase."

Paul Vincent, sales manager Europe, Ircon BV (Amersfoort, The Netherlands; www.ircon.com), said, "We made some highly promising contacts in niche markets and therefore opened up new lines of business."

Said Andrew Buglass, product manager, Active Silicon Ltd. (Uxbridge, Middlesex, UK; www.activesilicon.co.uk), "We had interested trade visitors with high levels of expertise at our stand. This is important for a foreign exhibitor who is attending VISION for the first time."

Peter Fodor, managing director, AnaLogic Computers Ltd. (Budapest, Hungary; www.analogic-computers.com), said,

"VISION is a structured trade fair that presents the latest technologies. We were impressed by the high level of expertise among visitors."

Also at the fair, the EUR 2000 Prize for Applied Machine Vision was bestowed for the best innovative machine-vision product or system. This year it was awarded to Henning Wolf, managing director and founder of ABW GmbH (Frickenhausen, Germany; www.ABW-3D.de) for the development of "3-D microscopy with absolute surface measurement."

A show record of 2635 patricipants attended "Industrial Vision Days," a series of papers organized by the VDMA that covered the latest industry trends and applications.

VISION 2003 will be held again in Stuttgart, Germany, from 21 to 23 October 2003. For more information, refer to the Vision systems design Web site: www.vision-systems.com.

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