Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ease-of-use is key

The biggest barrier to increased take-up of machine vision, and hence market growth, is that vision systems are difficult to use. I’ve said several times that companies should focus their development efforts on making it easier to get a system working; I know people better qualified than I have made similar pronouncements.

Well recently I had a chance to use a Checker 252 from Cognex, and guess what? They’ve been listening. It really is very easy to use. If you’re not familiar with Checker, allow me to introduce you.

Checker is a
smart vision sensor that anyone, even me, can get running in a matter of minutes. It connects to a PC via USB: just apply power and open up the Checker software application. Resolution is much lower than a regular VGA camera. The 252 is the “hi-res” variant. Cognex don’t publish the number of pixels but I estimate it’s something like 256 x 128. On the plus side though, it runs at over 100 frames/sec, which opens up some interesting possibilities.

Tools consist of part location, (basically an edge-finder,) pattern matching, brightness and contrast. That may sound limited but there’s a lot you can do with those. In addition, they’ve added a basic gauging tool. Now remember that this is a low-res sensor, so it’s not going to do precision measurement, but, within limits, it will let you test if a feature is too big or too small.

So there you have it. Checker is an easy-to-use vision sensor that rivals many low-end smart cameras in functionality. I have a feeling that we’ll see the Checker range grow, gradually supplanting the DVT products, and helping Cognex extend their domination of the vision sensor business.

1 comment:

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

One area that in my opinion is just ripe for machine vision technology is gaming. Game designers have for too long just relied on joysticks for playing. I think it is time they moved to gaze following, sound activated gaming, motion sensing (WII has some of it) etc.

Ease of use is the key as you say and sometimes I think we overlook very simple enhancements that can lead to big changes.