Tue Mørck, director, global business and development, JAI
How did you come to be part of the imaging/machine vision industry?
I worked in photography, which is how I got interested in optics and imaging. I later worked with holography and optical correlation techniques at the Danish Technical University. Following this, I developed instrumentation for flow investigation and spectroscopy at a private company using lasers, optics and cameras. This again involved scientific research and development within imaging at a technical level. In 2001 I joined the camera manufacturer JAI, where the product strategy was to develop high quality industrial cameras, both single and multi-imager versions. JAI stands on three legs: camera solutions, traffic solutions and global security solutions, all based on camera and vision technology. Today, I work for our chief executive officer and owner, Jørgen Andersen, within global business development after having worked in product, sales and marketing management.
How do you convince customers that they need machine vision?
Our customers, in general, know more about their vision application than we do. My job is to understand their requirements and then show how vision can help improve their processes. Dependent on their line of business, improvements can be made regarding productivity, quality, security, waste and the environment. Let’s take two examples: for colour inspection, it is up to JAI to explain what advantages a prism-based multi-imager camera provides, namely crisp colours, high fill-factor, no halo-effects, no interpolation and better-defined spectrum, and how these benefit an application like inspection and sorting. Secondly, for high-end security, it is up to JAI to show what can be seen at low light levels or how the camera continues to work in extreme conditions. It is our job to explain the advantages vision technology provides.
What role does Europe have in the development of machine vision?
Europe is a developed market with a focus on welfare and the environment and with 750 million inhabitants the buying power is significant. The high average living standard and average salary force the industry to provide excellent quality and efficiency, drivers for high-end vision. Besides an advanced automated industry and focus on intelligent traffic, Europe has an advanced defence industry. Therefore, Europe will continue to play an important role when it comes to vision systems and machine vision. Along with Japan, Europe has set quality standards and contributes to standardisation.
What do you see as the major growth sectors?
The spectral dimension will become more important. The available and emerging optical and electro-optical technologies combined with affordable processing power make it feasible to ‘see’ both inside and outside the visible spectrum in detail. A few segments where this is happening today include waste, medical, pharmaceutical, print, food, surface, surveillance and traffic.
Also, the third dimension will be important – to be able to detect the three dimensional shape and volume of an object is significantly more informative that a two dimensional view. Improvements in speed, sensitivity and resolution will likewise make it possible to scan faster and to see what you cannot see today.
The automated imaging market will move with the rise and fall of the industrial and financial markets. New technology will make it possible to go further with imaging and the overall trend will show growth for most sectors whether automation, traffic or surveillance.
What do you see as the most important technological challenges facing the industry?
Simplicity and standardisation together with cost reductions is a huge task. Another challenge is to understand multi-dimensional imaging – in the first instance regarding time, spectrum, shape and volume. This is very much about understanding both the application and the potential for vision.
What do you see as being the most significant commercial change in the industry during the years ahead?
Several significant commercial changes lie ahead. Firstly, the widely used sensor/camera technology will become cheaper following the ongoing trend to incorporate vision as a tool for a wider spectrum of applications. To survive in that camera segment, volume or critical mass will be a key factor. The industry has for years talked about consolidation and this is exactly what we have seen in other industries when technology becomes mature and commonly used. The transformation of automated vision to a standard tool is another change. Software will play a significant role in this in combination with less expensive hardware.
Vision is in its infancy. The multi-dimensional imaging – whether regarding time, spectrum or volume – will expand the definition of imaging and thereby increase the number of applications for vision dramatically. In mechanical and medical applications, 3D vision is applied, while in food and pharma, spectral imaging is used. The futuristic vision world is close and is driven by available and affordable image processing.