Advanced Imaging


Advanced Imaging Magazine

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

The Wonderful World of Color

When is it worthwhile to purchase a color MV camera?
Ripeness Check of Products
Color machine vision allows inspectors to check for ripeness and product quality
Single-chip area scan
Toshiba Imaging Systems
Fig. 2: Single-chip area scan cameras use a single sensor that is covered by a color filter with a fixed, repetitive pattern. To reconstruct a complete color image the red, green and blue information is interpolated across several adjacent cells to determine the total color content of each individual cell.
3CCD Cameras
Toshiba Imaging Systems
Fig. 3: 3CCD cameras contain three image sensors and a prism that divides the incoming light rays into their red, green, and blue components. Each chip then receives a single color at full resolution.
JAI’s CV-M9 GE camera
JAI’s CV-M9 GE camera is based on 3CCD prism technology, but has a GigE Vision interface.

By Barry Hochfelder

There is, seemingly, a manufacturer producing a quality camera, whether CCD or CMOS, for every application. Imaging solutions are being found in almost every conceivable photonics area, from biomedical to military and aerospace, from the laboratory to homeland security.

While camera selection never has been greater and variable features such as speed, resolution and output requirements give the end user a wide variety of performance options from which to choose, one area is growing at a much slower pace. Color.

“While the machine vision industry has undergone some revolutionary changes in recent years, one area that continues to advance at a relatively slow pace is that of color machine vision,” says Robert Howison, Project Leader (OEM Custom Projects) at DALSA Corp., (Montreal). One of the historical reasons for its slow adoption has been that solving a MV problem with color always required more money and processing power than an equivalent monochrome solution.”

That situation, however, is beginning to change, he says, because the cost of MV hardware and software has dropped drastically bringing both monochrome and color solutions within the reach of OEMs who, just a few years ago, would have laughed at an MV sales representative.

According to the Automated Imaging Association (AIA), only about one-third of all machine vision cameras sold in North America are color, however inroads are being made, primarily because of technological advances. For example, today’s computers are able to process color’s much larger data signals much faster, sensor technology has improved and sensors are less expensive. Finally, many new sophisticated software algorithms have been developed.

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