Imaging exceeds expectations

Machine-vision and image-processing systems are solving a range of application problems. Whether developed in Europe or the United States, the design of these systems nearly always exceeds the application demands for improved performance.

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Machine-vision and image-processing systems are solving a range of application problems. Whether developed in Europe or the United States, the design of these systems nearly always exceeds the application demands for improved performance.

In England, maintenance workers have used visual techniques and hand-held gauges to measure the wear of train wheels. Both methods resulted in various and unreliable levels of subjective assessments. Therefore, English railroads have installed automated vision inspection systems that can even check the wheels while the trains are moving, according to contributing editor Peter Gallon and editor Andrew Wilson (see p. 39).

Driven by the increased demands of medical-imaging and remote-sensor developers, optical-memory and disk-drive manufacturers are incorporating multiple layers and surface-array recording techniques into their latest storage products. These products are making possible the storage of as much as 25 Gbytes on one digital versatile disk (DVD). In this month's Product Focus, editor Andy Wilson explains how DVD drives are quickly replacing CD-ROM drives as standard optical-storage devices (see p. 61).

Biotechnology researchers frequently use fluorescent tagging methods in DNA microarray experiments for measuring genetic parameters. Assisting them, says contributing editor Charlie Masi, is a special optical microarray scanning system and software that acquires and analyzes multiple high-resolution images (see p. 55).

Computer-aided tools permit surgeons to work through small incisions, which shortens patient recovery time and lowers medical costs. Although 2-D vision methods have been somewhat successful, 3-D vision methods offer more surgical advantages. The latest 3-D imaging technology, says contributing editor Joe Hallett, enables a surgeon to perform complex operations while sitting at a console station several feet from a patient (see p. 25).

In the automotive field, variable errors and high costs plagued the manual inspection and sorting of incoming used truck brake shoes. To overcome these problems, an automotive supplier contracted a system integrator to design and install a suitable vision inspection system. The result, as described by contributing editor Larry Curran, is a five-camera vision system that captures images at various angles for precisely measuring and identifying various brake shoe brands (see p. 31).

European system integrators and large end users are looking for small, low-power, low-price CCD and CMOS camera sensors. Some European companies, says contributing editor Brian Dance, are targeting higher volumes and lower costs while making custom CMOS imaging sensors (see p. 45).

George Kotelly,Editor in Chief
georgek@pennwell.com

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