Wednesday, August 11, 2010

NI adding machine vision capabilities

The VBAI vision product (that’s Vision Builder Automated Inspection) is great for when you don’t want to wrestle the beast that is LabVIEW - that is, if you just need to implement a fairly straightforward solution and don’t want to mess with all those wires – but it has been just a little limited.

It seems National Instruments have recognized that they’re missing out on a significant market, because VBAI 2010 has some useful additions. There are four new software tools: one for checking contours, a rather clever color segmentation tool or classifier, optical flow and texture defect detection.

Optical flow is a little ho-hum (Roborealm has had it for a long time,) but the others could be rather useful. The defect detection tool in particular is quite clever. It uses such tools as “wavelet decomposition,” “Haralick features,” and a “Support Vector Machine” classifier. In laymans terms, that means you train the system on the texture you want to inspect. The software offers a number of different processing effects and you, the user, select the one that seems to work best on your particular surface.

As you might expect, it’s very computationally intensive, so don’t use it when time is of the essence – unless you wanted to take advantage of it in its “Vision Development Module” incarnation (which means using LabVIEW.)

Regular readers know I have a cynical streak, so you won’t be surprised that I see this as a response to the “Stain” tool that Keyence launched a while back, and which works pretty well.

There is one other new feature in VBAI 2010 that I rather like, but as I try to keep these posts short you’ll have to check back tomorrow to learn about that.

No comments: