Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Update on Microscan

I’m quite impressed by the way in which Microscan is growing its family of machine vision products. Having started out as a code reading company, they acquired the old NER business from Siemens a while back and since then have put together an interesting portfolio.

This month they’ve announced “Three New Machine Vision Innovations” (their words, not mine,) so let’s take a look.

The “innovations” they’re talking about are the Vision Hawk and Vision Mini smart cameras and a new programming/configuration software tool, AutoVISION™. Now you may say there’s nothing new about a smart camera, but it’s fair to say that these are a little different. What Microscan has done is incorporate an autofocus lens into each of the smart cameras. That’s a nice touch because it moves these a little closer to being plug ‘n’ play devices.

You may recall that Cognex have a similar autofocus capability (they use a liquid lens design) in their Dataman code readers, but somewhat to my surprise, they haven’t yet rolled that out to the Checker vision sensors. This could be because they’re not happy with the image quality, though having used a few Checkers, (which I do like,) I’d have to say that the current lens is no great shakes. But perhaps there’s a different explanation. Maybe Microscan has a more rapid product development process.

Turning now to the new Microscan vision software; I haven’t got my hands on this yet but from the literature it appears somewhat reminiscent of the old DVT Framework product. Microscan point out that an application developed in AutoVISION can be moved onto the higher-end Visionscape platform, which is a good thing (try doing that with a Checker!) It also leads me to think that AutoVISION is not so much new as a scaled back version of Visionscape with a user-friendly GUI.
All in all, these are some interesting developments from a company that seems very serious about growing its machine vision business. If I worked from a certain Natick-based vision company I’d be watching Microscan like a hawk!

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