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ADVANCED VISUALIZATION MARKETS EXPAND
While we were all watching the stock market dwindle and PCs were becoming true commodity items, leading scientists and researchers were looking for a more affordable and flexible technology to resolve complex, daily problems. No one thinks of a Pringles potato chip as a marketplace where Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) code could be used to ensure the perfect chip is placed into that tubular structure. No one, that is, except Procter and Gamble, who applied the code to ensure a better product and to hopefully retain and upgrade its market share of the snack industry. Nor did anyone seem to need to know not only that you will survive a car crash, but also that the capillaries around your lungs will be minimally impacted.
Welcome to advanced visualization as defined by SGI. SGI's mission statement in these emerging markets is to deliver more value through differentiation with a systems approach to design, enable remote visualization and collaboration and deliver more capability to the desktop. Beyond such markets as global climate modeling, and battlefield planning and engagement, SGI intends to differentiate its newest product offerings from those computer graphics cards available on desktop PCs by making SGI visual computing more accessible with an Onyx entry price of <$45K USLP (U.S. List Price) and Reality Center entry <$100K USLP. The core offerings will embrace the economics of third-party graphics, while driving industry-leading APIs into the broader marketplace. These include OpenGL Performer on IRIX, Windows, and Linux; OpenGL 2.0 for widespread shader adoption (see Advanced Imaging, June 2003, page 16); and OpenGL ES for embedded system uses, cell phones, set-top boxes and PDAs (see Late Breaking News below).
VISION OPPORTUNITIES IN MATERIAL INSPECTION
If machine vision is to expand beyond its heavy reliance on worldwide electronics, it must go where the new opportunities are-in material inspection-and address the nagging issue of OEM versus systems integration and beyond. A prime example of where new opportunities are emerging was demonstrated at a press conference sponsored by Messe Stuttgart on behalf of Isra Vision Systems AG and SCA Schucker GmbH at SCA Shucker's facility in Bretten, Germany. Of course, the automotive machine vision market is bigger in Europe than the U.S., but the ability to integrate robotics with machine vision for both real-time monitoring and regulation of adhesive being applied is far more interesting since it is a change in direction for assembly and manufacturing.
According to executives from SCA Schucker, automotive manufacturers are leaning toward replacing many of the mechanical items used to assemble car doors. An adhesive layer will replace many of the screws and bolts normally used in the door assembly. In, fact, there are hints that adhesives may replace many mechanical parts of the automotive assembly areas, such as motors mounts and so forth.
The technology behind this new application centers on an integrated triple camera assembly with a 360-degree test range. Custom-designed and built by ISRA Vision Systems, the self-contained sensing unit is integrated into the adhesive controller and cuts down on the effects of ambient light with a short test distance. Perhaps what really seems to have caught the attention of the end-user is the integrated software that allows for one user interface, with auto teach functions and an operating assistant, or Wizard. This 'one-button' software means that an assembly line only has to change parameters for different parts and can be optimized for the learning of application contours.