Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What can you do with Halcon?

The simple answer is – pretty much any machine vision task can be done with Halcon from MVTec. It’s one of the world’s leading vision software packages, although I don’t see it a lot in North America. (If you have a good Halcon application, please let me know.)

So why isn’t everyone using it? I think there are three barriers.

First, it’s not simple to learn and use. I’m sure MVTec will email me to explain why I am wrong, but in my defense let me say that I have looked at it, I am impressed with it, but with my bias towards a graphical programming interface I see one heck of a learning curve. More of a learning cliff really, think north face of the Eiger. Of course, to cater to folks like me MVTec also offer ActivVisionTools.

The second barrier is price. This is not inexpensive software.

The third barrier is, I believe, a simple lack of knowledge of what one can do with Halcon. This is the one I’m going to put right.

I recently stumbled across an excellent machine vision blog written by Stéphane François of Ontario-based Computed Vision Solutions. Stéphane is a Halconist. I’m not sure if that’s a formal designation like being a Certified LabVIEW Developed or just a title one bestows on oneself, but it’s clear that he knows his Halcon inside out and from front to back.

Stéphane seems to have a little time on his hands – or just manages his time well – because on his blog, titled simply, “Computed Vision Blog”, he describes, in great detail, some of his explorations in machine vision. This year he’s investigated how to run Halcon on a Vision Components nano smart camera, and is now getting to grips with the 3D SICK Ranger product.

There are two things I really like about Stéphane’s blog. First, there’s no BS. He just writes about what he does and observes, with lots of pictures to help explain. And second, he posts lots of video. So if you’re at all interested in learning what Halcon could do for you, (or you want to learn about the VC nano or the SICK Ranger,) log on and get reading.


Marty Kanacewicz said...

ThinkinJMAK is a distributor for HALCON in the USA and Canada. You are right that you do not see HALCON very often in the USA or Canada and it is due to the fact that not many people investigate it. They know HALCON has a large market share in Europe and Asia but here in the US the presence is pitiful. I sold Cognex vision for 10 years years and can tell you that HALCON is more powerful ( especially for 3D applications), but to the average smart camera user it is hard to use. If you program in C++, C#. or .NET you will absolutely LOVE the HALCON product. Let my company show you.
Price - The development system is expensive but the runtime licenses are less than 1/2 the price of Cognex VisionPro. Therefore for volume users (over 5 system systems) HALCON is much less expensive than Cognex VisionPro.

Rafał Mierzwa said...

I also use Halcon from time to time and I'm impressed especially about its documentation. However I think you have right it's not easy to learn but powerfull. I invite you to see Adaptive Vision Studio which is also very powerfull and much easier to use. Pretty amazing software :-).