Vision: Hyperspectral machine vision is a hot topic

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Allied Vision, Stemmer Imaging and Ximea will be exhibiting at the world's leading trade fair for machine vision, with a foot in both camps – SWIR and NIR.

According to Ahrensburg-based Allied Vision Technologies GmbH, the intelligent interplay of process and production units and the rapid transmission of information without delay to production workflows is called for especially by ultra-advanced and sophisticated users. "Machine vision has to integrate simply – both in terms of data transfer and incorporation into the overall system," stresses Ludger Kemper, Osnabrück Operations Director and Sales Application Engineer for infrared cameras.

Speed is a further key aspect: greater time pressure and faster production processes require quality inspections during the production process itself. Machine vision customers therefore expect high frame rates, fast data processing and transmission and process-optimised support. According to Ludger Kemper: "Wavelengths outside the visible range are becoming increasingly important. For instance, infrared cameras through materials can make the hidden visible. They therefore provide the opportunity to check the contents of sealed plastic or glass containers in the production line, without interrupting the production process." However, precision is just as important: Automated production processes increasingly have to meet the demand for zero defect production. This can only work with absolute precision and end-to-end control of all parts, with machine vision systems acting as artificial eyes.

Allied Vision solves this with embedded vision, greater flexibility and hyperspectral technology. In Stuttgart the company will be showcasing, among other products, cameras for the visible and infrared range, with high frame rates (up to 550 frames per second), excellent resolution (up to 29 megapixels), precise synchronisation processes (PTP, ToE) and SDK Vimba 2.0 software for simple integration of machine vision into the overall system.

Tailored system solutions for exacting demands

Puchheim-based Stemmer Imaging GmbH is also witnessing exacting demands with regard to data transmission and processing emanating from the trend for high-resolution and ever-faster machine vision. "This can be solved with new interfaces, such as CoaXPress or GigE Vision, as well as with clever algorithms, which for instance only transmit the pixels that have changed from the previous image," explains Peter Stiefenhöfer, Head of Marketing and PR. "The data transmission rate can be massively optimised using this innovation developed by one of our partners."

Stemmer Imaging develops machine vision systems in Puchheim, tailored specifically to each application to meet the increasingly exacting demands from users for precision, speed and data processing. Stemmer Imaging also performs feasibility studies, tests different component combinations and selects the hardware and software based on the results.

Among other products, the Puchheim company will be showcasing what it calls smart vision systems for intelligent 2D and 3D machine vision at VISION, which assist inexperienced users to set up and operate the systems. Peter Stiefenhöfer regards hyperspectral systems as a further highlight of the trade fair, for which its partner company, Perception Park GmbH based in Graz (Austria), has developed a generic, intuitively configurable data processing platform. According to Peter Stiefenhöfer: "It is used to set up machine vision systems based on Chemical Colour Imaging (CCI) technology, which enables the chemical properties and characteristics of objects to be differentiated. This permits, for instance, rotten parts of fruit and vegetables to be identified. We will be showcasing some really interesting approaches in Stuttgart."

Live demonstration of real-time systems

This special form of machine vision is also a speciality of XIMEA GmbH from Münster. According to Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Jürgen Hillmann: "We offer systems for the visible and infrared range (NIR/SWIR), for which there are currently four main fields of application." In medicine, the camera systems that operate in the range between NIR and SWIR can be used in projects to detect skin cancer, among other things. In agriculture, drones are equipped with lightweight and portable cameras, which scrutinise the condition of plants as they fly over fields to reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides.

Industrial companies use the Münster-developed hyperspectral machine vision in many different ways – some as protection against product piracy using forgery-proof labelling and verification of products.

Ximea will be demonstrating live at VISION how this technology works. "Visitors will be able to view fast real-time systems on our stand in Stuttgart, which work with a frame rate of 170 frames per second (fps)," explains the CTO. "We will also be showing flight-compatible hardware, ideal for using in drones."

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