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Advanced Imaging Magazine

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

Virtual Roundtable: The Frame Grabber

BitFlow Karbon-CL
BitFlow
The BitFlow Karbon-CL frame grabber.
Alacron's Fast-X
FastX
Alacron's Fast-X series frame grabbers
Euresys Grablink
Euresys
A Euresys Grablink Framegrabber
Joseph Sgro
Joseph Sgro, Alacron, Inc.
Marc Damhaut
Marc Damhaut, Euresys
Dwayne Crawford
Dwayne Crawford, Matrox Imaging
Fabio Perelli
Fabio Perelli, Matrox Imaging
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By Keith Reid

There has been considerable buzz in recent years over smart cameras, which can loosely be defined as a camera platform that incorporates software and processing hardware into a compact form factor. These cameras are typically applied in industrial machine vision applications and to a lesser degree in other areas like security. They are seen as offering simplicity and at a reduced cost.

The rise of smart cameras has had some impact on the traditional analog camera/frame grabber/PC platform system approach. According to the Automated Imaging Association's latest report (as this issue goes to press) "Machine Vision Markets—2005 Results and Forecasts to 2010," smart cameras enjoyed continued strong growth in 2005 with an increase in unit sales of 19.1 percent in units and a revenue increase of 14.4 percent. By comparison, while frame grabbers saw an increase in unit sales of 25.1 percent, there was also a dramatic 19.2 percent decrease in revenue.

While the price reductions have likely contributed to the continued strong sale of frame grabbers, there are plenty of areas were a frame grabber is not only a viable alternative to the smart camera but where a smart camera simply is not an option. The processing power provided by a high-end PC and dedicated image processing card can typically not be matched with the form factor limitations imposed on a smart camera design. And, the reduced prices make a frame grabber/PC combination more affordable than ever.

This Virtual Roundtable poses a series of questions to industry leaders in frame grabber technology, to cover the state of this technology. The participants are:

Joseph Sgro, Ph.D./ M.D., CEO, Alacron, Inc. (Nashua, N.H.). Alacron is a leader in the design, development and manufacture of high performance frame grabbers and coprocessor subsystems for demanding real-world imaging and machine vision applications. Alacron offers a comprehensive line of hardware solutions for PCI, PMC, and VME bus platforms that include extensive libraries of micro coded image and signal processing algorithms. Alacron's customers include a wide range of OEMs, government agencies, research institutions and universities.

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