Trends in Machine Vision

Interview with Frank Grube, President and CEO, Allied Vision Technologies GmbH

Frank Grube, President/CEO, Allied Vision

What were, for you, the most important developments in imaging over the last year?

"In the past, sensor resolution played a subordinate role in many machine vision applications. Image rates and processing speed were more in the forefront. But the demand for camera solutions that deliver images in higher resolution is growing, whether for replacing several cameras with a single one that captures an entire image or being able to recognize more details in images. This growth has also been enabled by high transfer rates achieved through newer interfaces, not only within the framework of diagnostic systems in the fields of science and medical technology, but also in individual classic industrial applications. Cameras with resolution of up to 29 Megapixels (such as the Prosilica GT6600 by Allied Vision) and high sensitivity are required  to reliably reproduce the smallest details.

Certainly, another meaningful development in imaging is the trend toward CMOS sensors, which are increasingly replacing CCD sensors. Sensitivity, dynamics, and image rates increased on CMOS Global Shutter sensor technology, so many camera manufacturers are really betting on this technology Allied Vision recognized this trend in time and took it into account accordingly when developing new and existing camera models."

What additional possibilities would you wish for in the future?

"Tasks for imaging solutions are very different according to the industry, the objective, and the environment. One answer to these various demands is more flexibility in the configuration of components, cameras, and peripherals. For this reason, Allied Vision developed a modular concept that offers users this freedom of choice.

Moreover, for a lot of application fields it can be really expedient to combine different spectral ranges – from visible to short-wave infrared up to thermal imaging - into one application. When they’re optimally aligned with each other, the combination of cameras delivers a complex image of the object being analyzed. A single manufacturer (such as Allied Vision) equipping this system with different camera models can greatly simplify the realization and operation of such an application.

In the past, imaging in the infrared wavelength range was overwhelmingly used in cost-intensive inspection and research applications. Beyond the range of what is visible to the human eye, infrared cameras offer the possibility of in additional application areas, such as in industrial inspection. In the future, it should become more affordable to make the infrared spectral range accessible for a wide circle of users. For cost-sensitive applications where resolution plays a subordinate role (for example, temperature measurements in the steel industry), Allied Vision has taken a step in this direction with its Goldeye G-008, that is equipped with a smaller QVGA sensor (320 x 256 pixels) and as such can be offered at a correspondingly more affordable price."

How do you view the industry’s economic future?

"The imaging industry remains in a growth phase, and the market’s positive development will continue to advance. Driving this, first and foremost, are market segments outside of industrial production, such as traffic automation, medical technology and other growth segments. The continually increasing automation of production is an important growth engine as well. In industrial nations, there are megatrends, such as Industry 4.0, that are driving the market forward. In emerging markets (i.e., China), an increased demand for quality and the leveling off of incomes are generating continued high growth."

The possibilities in imaging have grown to be very comprehensive. There is virtually an appropriate solution for every application. How do you support your customers in choosing the optimal imaging solution?

"Allied Vision offers camera solutions for the most diverse application areas, all of which bring completely different and to some extent individual demands upon the technology being used. Our goal is to offer every customer the camera solution that is best aligned with their needs, and to continuously work with the customer for the duration of that project. In selecting the right camera solution for their application, we advise users by asking targeted questions and determining concrete needs and specific objectives. Based on these requirements, we recommend the optimal solution, tailored for the customer. That includes not just a digital camera but also the right optics, the right peripherals, the right interface and the right software connection.

The support doesn’t end with selection of the camera. Even if the requirements change during the course of the project, the customer can always rely on our technical support team for their questions about use and implementation.

As a leading camera manufacturer, we offer products and expertise for imaging in the visible and infrared spectrum up to the thermal spectrum range. With this unique know-how, we’re in a position to advise our customers individually and determine the right technology for their application."

What new technologies and/or products can we expect from your shop?

"Allied Vision continually develops its product portfolio in order to offer our customers the best and newest technological advances. Alongside the integration of the latest CMOS sensors into current and new camera series that we’ve already mentioned, we’re also working on the interface technologies of the future. As an example, we exhibited a camera prototype with a Thunderbolt interface at the last VISION show. In the infrared range, we’re expanding our Goldeye camera family as well. Likewise, we’re constantly developing the peripherals we offer. Our engineers and technicians  select the best lenses, cables, etc, and test them in combination with our cameras. In this way, our customers can depend on their camera delivering the best possible results using our peripherals."