Advanced Imaging


Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 10:01 AM CDT

Success in Stuttgart

More exhibitors, visitors see 3D advances—and a lot more

By Barry Hochfelder

No matter how you look at it, the vision industry is healthy. That was evident last month at VISION 2007 in Stuttgart's new Trade Fair Centre.

About 6,000 visitors (up 13 percent from 2006) and 281 exhibitors (up 31 percent) attended the show. Even more important, 59 percent of those who were inclined to invest said that they were making a new investment in machine vision, according to Messe Stuttgart. Fifty percent said they intended to make additional purchases and 15 percent said that their purchase intentions involved replacement investments. (Yes, I know that adds up to 124 percent, but some responded in more than one category.)

When sifting through all the exciting new technology at VISION, one element seemed to stand out for me: advancements in 3D. Here are three quick examples:

  • Spanish company, Aqsense, which was begun in 2004 by researchers from the University of Girona, revealed its new technology for enhancing the performance of any 3D shape-analysis system. Its image acquisition and processing technologies allow high-speed in-line 100 percent production inspection. Its shape-processor software allows the alignment and comparison of dense 3D clouds of points with their respective models in a fraction of a second. Surface matching is accomplished with alignment based only on 3D shape features, with an alignment error of less than 1 micron. Alignment time is less than 100ms and comparison time is less than 200 ms.
  • Infinity Photo-Optical (Boulder, Colo.) unveiled a line of six lenses—its CentriTel™ series—that enhance 3D. The lenses are designed to provide laterally and longitudinally constant magnification through focal translation without external movement or positioning devices. They maintain fixed working distances with internal focus. Motorized computer-driven models allow accurate 3D measurements even when mounted inside assemblies. Focus ranges from infinity to as little as 20mm. Instead of maintaining focus through depth of field the way telecentric lenses do, these "peel away" strata without magnification changes or decentration during progressive focus.
  • In-Situ GmbH & Co., KG, (Munich, Germany), was awarded the prize for Applied Machine Vision for its "completely new surface inspection system in real time." The new development, based on the principle of "shape-from-shading" (SfS), has been introduced with SPARC (Surface Pattern Analyzer and Roughness Calculator).

SPARC produces three-dimensional images of objects with only a single recording, making it possible to analyze moving objects. In addition, the company says, the system only uses standard components and no moving mechanical elements, producing a robust system with good price/performance ratio.

Finally, getting back to the health of the industry, Paul Kellett, Automated Imaging Association Director—Market Analysis, revealed the results of an AIA study during the organization's annual networking reception. The new study included two parts: a financial ratio analysis and an analysis of stock market performance of 28 of the world's largest, publicly traded machine vision companies over a three-year period.

The machine vision industry, he said, is healthy and exhibiting the moderate performance that one might expect from an established industry.

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