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Advanced Imaging Magazine

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

Turn On the Lights

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By Barry Hochfelder

When I'm asked by friends to explain my job and what Advanced Imaging is all about, I usually start with machine vision, the eight core technologies we cover, and how they all must fit together for an efficient, effective system. I try to show them our Electronic Imaging Core Technologies Map (which, by the way, will be published again in the February 2008 issue). That means telling them about illumination, optics, cameras and sensors, data path, processing, storage, display and software. In this issue, we feature two of those—software and illumination.

Needless to say, folks in the lighting business insist that illumination is the most important element of machine vision. They just might be right. If you can't see what you want to inspect, you're in a lot of trouble.

"You should spend 80 percent of the time on lighting before you can use your application," says William Biederman of Vision Light Technologies. "I've seen people pick out their camera, lens and software, but they hadn't figured out how to light the thing."

What happens then? Here's one example: A food company designed a system featuring tungsten lighting.

Unfortunately, they discovered that it was using too much power, so they switched to metal halite lamps. Then what happened? "They didn't put out light in the colors they needed," says Ken Zeiler of Mercron. "Those things should have [been determined] before the system design."

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