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How did you come to be part of the imaging/machine vision industry?
Throughout my professional career I have had the opportunity to work directly with national and international integrators who were actively involved with access control, document identification and verification, biometrics, and 3D facial recognition. Many of the proposed systems had unique vision component with varying needs and demands. I was drawn to the fact that most of the vision applications seemed limitless.

I was asked to join Lumenera back in November 2005 and have since been promoted to European business development manager. My focus is to grow our European channel and secure industrial, scientific and security market share.

How do you convince customers that they need machine vision?
In most cases, customers already know what they want and need when they contact us. Machine vision has already been identified as the most effective way to resolve a specific issue, and they have very precise requirements. Occasionally, machine vision has already been implemented, but without the desired results. Some systems are designed around older cameras that are not providing quality images at the right resolution and speed, therefore users are looking for new, high-end, yet cost-effective solutions.

What role does Europe have in the development of machine vision?
Europe will always play an important role in the machine vision industry. We view Europe as a very strategic area and spend a great deal of time partnering and prospecting, as they tend to actively adopt best-of-breed technologies once they are standardised. We have built strategic partnerships and secured many large OEMs in Europe.

What do you see as the major growth sectors?
I believe that scientific, industrial and security applications will continue to see growth in the coming years.

IP security cameras will grow at a healthy rate as many companies are starting to transition from analogue to multi-megapixel Ethernet cameras. Large multinationals, such as government and financial institutions, are in the process of evaluating the various solutions on the market and will likely be the early technology adopters. These cost-effective, scalable solutions offer new precedents for legal evidence with quality images, and are capable of reducing camera counts by replacing several analogue cameras with just one IP device.

Industrial machine vision will continue to grow as companies are looking for quality solutions that are cost effective, quicker, accurate and more reliable.

The trend is moving towards providing a more complete imaging solution that generates high quality images at a well-appointed price.

What do you see as the most important technological challenges facing the industry?
Vision systems will continue to be driven by the performance of its individual components such as software, cameras, processing power and lighting. However, we believe that the imaging component will gain importance as more and more camera models include onboard processing power. Some application-specific pre-processing can now be done at the camera which offloads CPU cycles at the host. Cameras will become more powerful and defined, thus adding more value to the overall vision system.

As companies increase their sensor and camera portfolios, it is essential that they offer a development platform that is suitable for all of their products. A common Software Development Kit (SDK) is crucial for OEMs designing multiple products, as it reduces the design cycle and costs. The most important factor is that all innovation must be implemented with as little cost to the end-user as possible.

What do you see as being the most significant commercial change in the industry during the years ahead?
The main commercial change will be in the general landscape of the market. It is no secret that the European machine vision industry is very fragmented and that revenue is shared among many small companies. Some companies are likely to disappear, while others will consolidate to capture market share. To compete on a global scale, vendors will need to grow either organically or through acquisitions, and diversify product offerings to meet customer demands.

Globalisation will continue to introduce some interesting challenges. We are no longer competing locally but rather against international players. Successful companies will need to identify international threats and challenges at a very early phase and react, differentiate themselves and clearly communicate all value-added benefits.

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