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Of course, the system goes beyond just lighting; there are sophisticated imaging algorithms involved. The system itself is a smart camera (Siemens HawkEye) with fixed optics. "In an earlier run of the product there was a camera, three lenses and three lights," O'Brien says. "It was more of an engineering task to get it set up, focused and captured. Now it's a simple unit with one-button operation. It cycles through all 10 illumination types, captures images and grades them. It's an exact science that lends itself to verification."
The system automatically cycles through each illumination option, then reports the results to the user, identifying the best overall illumination setting for the marking technology and part surface of each application. Specific results also may be output as data fields to most SQL capable commercial data base products.
There is a critical need and a long way to go. Through December 2007, O'Brien says, there were about 2 million items in the UID Registry. There are as many as 400 million items still unregistered, including current inventory.