Sunday, November 2, 2008

Integration, simplified

In recent weeks I’ve seen two new products intended to simplify the challenge of integrating camera, trigger, lights and I/O into a single coherent system. These are the family of lighting/trigger controllers from Gardasoft, and the ‘maestro’ from LMI Technologies.

Both companies are trying to eliminate the PLC, which seems like a good thing to do. I mean no disrespect to all the hardworking PLC programmers out there, but it often seems that configuring triggers, I/O and so on can be the bottleneck in implementing a vision system. Machine vision people tend to have a background in software rather than electronics, and so need to bring in a specialist to get the system controller set up. At that point there’s little the vision guy can do but refresh his coffee and wait for the PLC programmer to give him back the machine.

My reading of the respective literature suggests that the two product offerings are not the same. Gardasoft aims to provide the ability to receive a trigger input, apply some timing, trigger both camera and light, and then issue an output. The LMI ‘maestro’ appears to be more like vision-PC, able to manage multiple cameras, run image analysis routines based on VisionPro, Halcon or MIL, and control triggers, lighting and I/O.

In short, here are two companies trying to solve a problem that, to be frank, plagues the implementation of vision systems. They seem like good ideas, but will they fly?

Let’s hear from you.

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