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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

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July/August 2004

MORE DYNAMISM THROUGH FIBER OPTICS

What is the connection between optical waveguides and machine vision? They both have two applications: as a fiber optic system for transmitting digital video data and as a fiber optic lighting element.

According to a study conducted by the Südwestfalen Technical College in 2003, 82.3% of the surveyed companies believed that their future demand for machine vision systems would increase. The international trade fair VISION 2004 In Stuttgart, Germany, which will be held October 19-21, will do more than just examine this continuing upward trend in the machine vision industry as it will provide a communication platform where highly competent experts — manufacturers, users, researchers — will find the most innovative products and technologies.

Just like electric wires for electricity, optical waveguides use the medium of light to transmit data. Over longer distances, fiber optic cables are used to transmit camera data without interference. Polytec GmbH will present with Opticlink the latest connection standards for IEEE 1394 FireWire and CameraLinks. Unlike their conventional electrical pendants, the wider transmission range and low attenuation losses of optical waveguides with broadband analog signals and during high-speed digital data transmission mean that they can be used over longer distances — normally between 100 and 10,000 meters — without interference. This is because optical waveguides are insensitive to electromagnetic pulses. This may be important, for example, in the area of nuclear spin tomography in medical technology or wherever lightning may strike.

Optical waveguides can also be practical, for example, in flexible endoscopy or in the construction industry when a camera has to be used in hard-to-reach cavities in order to obtain a visual impression of the state of a structure for the purpose of damage analysis or substance evaluation.

The Fraunhofer Institutes for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems (IMP) and Photonic Microsystems (IMPS) use the IEEE 1394b standard and optical waveguide solutions for control electronics for special micromirror arrays. Data must be transferred from a PC to the control electronics with up to one million individual mirrors per component and a maximum frame rate of 2 kHz at a high data speed. These components are suitable for applications such as optical exposure, rapid product development or adaptive optical systems. IEEE 1394 solutions with glass fibers and data speeds of 800 Mbit-sec are already available.

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