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Machine vision

What is machine vision?

Machine vision is the ability of a computer to see; it employs one or more video cameras, analog-to-digital conversion (ADC), and digital signal processing (DSP). The resulting data goes to a computer or robot controller. Machine vision is similar in complexity to voice recognition.

Two important specifications in any vision system are sensitivity and resolution. Sensitivity is the ability of a machine to see in dim light or to detect weak impulses at invisible wavelengths. Resolution is the extent to which a machine can differentiate between objects. 

In general, the better the resolution, the more confined the field of vision. Sensitivity and resolution are interdependent. All other factors held constant, increasing the sensitivity reduces the resolution, and improving the resolution reduces the sensitivity.

How does machine vision work?

A machine vision system consists of several critical components, from the sensor (camera) that captures a picture for inspection, to the processing engine itself (vision appliance) that renders and communicates the result. For any machine vision system to work reliably and generate repeatable results, it is important to understand how these critical components interact.

1. Lighting

The human eye can see well over a wide range of lighting conditions, but a machine vision system is not as capable. You must therefore carefully light the part being inspected so that the machine vision system can clearly 'see' them.

The light must be regulated and constant so that the light changes seen by the machine vision system are due to changes in the parts being inspected and not changes in the light source.

You will want to select lighting that 'amplifies' the elements of the part that you want to inspect and 'attenuates' elements that you don't want to inspect. In the left picture, poor lighting makes it difficult to read the letters on this part. In the right picture, the lighting has been selected to clearly show the lettering.

Proper lighting makes inspection faster and more accurate. Poor lighting is a major cause of failure in machine vision inspection systems.

2. Staging

Staging, sometimes called fixturing, holds the part to be inspected at a precise location in front of the camera for a Vision Appliance to 'see'. Staging is required for three reasons:

  1. To ensure that the surface of the part that you want to inspect is facing the camera. In some cases the 'parts' may be rotated to inspect multiple surfaces.
  2. To hold the part still for the brief moment required for the camera to take a picture of the part. 
  3. To speed up the processing by putting the part in a location known to the Vision Appliance. 

3. Optics and Lenses

The lens gathers the light reflected (or transmitted) from the part being inspected, and forms an image in the camera sensor. The proper lens allows you to see the field-of-view you want and to place the camera at a convenient working distance from the part.

4. Cameras

The camera contains a sensor that converts light from the lens into electrical signals. These signals are digitized into an array of values called pixels and processed by a Vision Appliance™ to perform the inspection.

The resolution (precision) of the inspection depends upon the working distance, the field-of-view (FOV), and the number of physical pixels in the camera's sensor. 

What are applications of machine vision?

Machine vision is used in various industrial and medical applications. Examples include:

  • Electronic component analysis
  • Signature identification
  • Optical character recognition
  • Handwriting recognition
  • Object recognition
  • Pattern recognition
  • Materials inspection
  • Currency inspection
  • Medical image analysis

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Machine vision

October 14, 2020

Table of contents

Key takeawaysCollaboration platforms are essential to the new way of workingEmployees prefer engati over emailEmployees play a growing part in software purchasing decisionsThe future of work is collaborativeMethodology

What is machine vision?

Machine vision is the ability of a computer to see; it employs one or more video cameras, analog-to-digital conversion (ADC), and digital signal processing (DSP). The resulting data goes to a computer or robot controller. Machine vision is similar in complexity to voice recognition.

Two important specifications in any vision system are sensitivity and resolution. Sensitivity is the ability of a machine to see in dim light or to detect weak impulses at invisible wavelengths. Resolution is the extent to which a machine can differentiate between objects. 

In general, the better the resolution, the more confined the field of vision. Sensitivity and resolution are interdependent. All other factors held constant, increasing the sensitivity reduces the resolution, and improving the resolution reduces the sensitivity.

How does machine vision work?

A machine vision system consists of several critical components, from the sensor (camera) that captures a picture for inspection, to the processing engine itself (vision appliance) that renders and communicates the result. For any machine vision system to work reliably and generate repeatable results, it is important to understand how these critical components interact.

1. Lighting

The human eye can see well over a wide range of lighting conditions, but a machine vision system is not as capable. You must therefore carefully light the part being inspected so that the machine vision system can clearly 'see' them.

The light must be regulated and constant so that the light changes seen by the machine vision system are due to changes in the parts being inspected and not changes in the light source.

You will want to select lighting that 'amplifies' the elements of the part that you want to inspect and 'attenuates' elements that you don't want to inspect. In the left picture, poor lighting makes it difficult to read the letters on this part. In the right picture, the lighting has been selected to clearly show the lettering.

Proper lighting makes inspection faster and more accurate. Poor lighting is a major cause of failure in machine vision inspection systems.

2. Staging

Staging, sometimes called fixturing, holds the part to be inspected at a precise location in front of the camera for a Vision Appliance to 'see'. Staging is required for three reasons:

  1. To ensure that the surface of the part that you want to inspect is facing the camera. In some cases the 'parts' may be rotated to inspect multiple surfaces.
  2. To hold the part still for the brief moment required for the camera to take a picture of the part. 
  3. To speed up the processing by putting the part in a location known to the Vision Appliance. 

3. Optics and Lenses

The lens gathers the light reflected (or transmitted) from the part being inspected, and forms an image in the camera sensor. The proper lens allows you to see the field-of-view you want and to place the camera at a convenient working distance from the part.

4. Cameras

The camera contains a sensor that converts light from the lens into electrical signals. These signals are digitized into an array of values called pixels and processed by a Vision Appliance™ to perform the inspection.

The resolution (precision) of the inspection depends upon the working distance, the field-of-view (FOV), and the number of physical pixels in the camera's sensor. 

What are applications of machine vision?

Machine vision is used in various industrial and medical applications. Examples include:

  • Electronic component analysis
  • Signature identification
  • Optical character recognition
  • Handwriting recognition
  • Object recognition
  • Pattern recognition
  • Materials inspection
  • Currency inspection
  • Medical image analysis

Thanks for reading! We hope you found this helpful.

Ready to level-up your business? Click here.

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