Arnaud Destruels VC product marketing manager, Sony Europe's image sensing solutions division
How did you come to be part of the imaging / machine vision industry?
I have worked at Sony Europe for 15 years; prior to working in machine vision I was involved in the semiconductor and consumer departments of the company. I relish the marketing challenge in this growing sector while still creating innovative vision products for the main industries. My technological and marketing background, hardware engineer diploma, marketing strategy specialism and product management were real pluses to bring to my responsibilities at Sony. A few years ago, I had the chance to introduce digital cameras (IEEE1394) into the machine vision market and to follow these pioneers of 3D imaging in manufacturing applications. I have enjoyed supporting Sony’s customers in this step of digital transition and getting to grips with the real potential of machine vision.
How do you convince customers that they need machine vision?
Sony has a reputation for a strong customer-oriented approach. Its relationships with customers are based on a high level of mixed skills (technical advice and concrete experience). Sony uses the same type of vocabulary as the customer in order to simplify and facilitate machine vision hardware integration. The company’s focus is on high quality, first-class performance, flexibility and reliability. Part of my job is to ensure that the customer is well informed about new technology and the benefits of machine vision.
What role does Europe have in the development of machine vision?
Europe has to inspire the development of machine vision. Europe is well known for its disruptive ideas and European companies are driving the machine vision market. Europe is a fantastic lab of case studies becoming success stories for the rest of the world. As an example, I remember that one of the first big touchscreen table-like interactive concepts was created and developed by a Swiss company using Sony machine vision cameras for a Vision Show booth.
What do you see as the major growth sectors?
Robotics, 3D scanning, identification and recognition systems, and many intelligent transportation system (ITS) applications are just starting their active growth. Inside the next five years, I expect that these areas will represent a significant part of the machine vision business, maybe more than half of it. Take an example: autonomous industrial robots or biometric systems are currently demanding new kinds of vision system; we at Sony are constantly working on this, with ultra-compact cameras, high-resolution sensors and adapted digital interface. In addition, in the medical and entertainment applications, this scenario is fast becoming a reality.
What do you see as the most important technological challenges facing the industry?
Industry always wants to integrate the best features of consumer cameras in complicated industrial vision systems, but it is important to see the reality. Industry needs time to digest and adopt new machine vision technologies; for more than 10 years Sony has been talking about the digital switch, yet analogue cameras are still used in many simple manufacturing applications. This demonstrates that some sectors of industry are concerned about the maturity and the reliability of machine vision technologies. The key challenge is this discrepancy between product development time and innovative camera technology adoption, such as a new digital interface or a new type of sensor.
What do you see as being the most significant commercial change in the industry during the years ahead?
The machine vision ecosystem has changed dramatically in the last couple of years for camera manufacturers. Partnerships are playing a major role in vision system integration. In terms of product development, industry needs a reference design validated by end-customers. This reference design concept includes making use of high quality sensors, having the right camera form factor, and being simple to integrate. In the coming years these basic parameters will become even more important.