vision systems in general are starting to see the world a lot more clearly of
late. "Applications have become a lot more demanding," says Paul Kellett,
director of research for the Automated Imaging Association. "What you're
starting to see more of, and this won't come as a surprise to anyone, is a
trend toward higher speeds, higher resolution and greater use of color." Kellett also sees an upswing in the use of 3D
vision systems, which grew by 5 percent last year to make up 14 percent of
application-specific vision system sales.
Omron Electronics taps into all of
these trends with enhancements to its high-end vision systems to improve speed
and color performance. Among those enhancements is a groundbreaking 3-D system
that the company has not yet started to sell in North America but will soon.
With its latest FZ2 systems, Omron has introduced True Color
Vision sensors that can capture over 16.77 million colors. Tom Kahn, manager of
the company's vision and RFID products, says the data volume associated with the color capabilities
is more than 65,500 times greater than the volume associated with previous
black-and-white image processing. "This vision sensor approaches the
color-processing capabilities of the human eye," Kahn says.
upped the ante on speed as well. Its previous standard camera offered an input
of 30 fps, or 33.3 ms. But a new 300,000-pixel camera bumps up that speed to 80
fps or 12.5 ms. For its high-definition 2-million-pixel cameras, which are just
one of many camera options available on the FZ2, the capture speed is 30 fps,
or 33.3 ms. "That's about twice as fast as earlier two-million-pixel cameras,"
Kahn says. Other architectural changes include the addition of an expanded
memory buffer for each camera, which allows for continuous image capture while
the system's main memory crunches measurement data.
system offers nine different types of smart cameras and a variety of related
components. And a single controller can handle up to four cameras, allowing
users to mix and match black-and-white and color cameras as needed for a given
those inspections will take place in 3D. Omron has developed its first
vision-based 3D measurement system, one capable of making real-time hole, gap and
defect inspections as well as handling part selection tasks on moving assembly
lines. "Obviously, it was developed for automotive applications," says Kahn,
though other assembly operation involving parts with complex shapes would be a
natural fit too.
Kahn believes the vision-based system could replace some of the lasers
now used for these applications. "The vision systems have a greater range and
field of view than the lasers, so you can locate them further from the
line," says Kahn. The trade-off for that location
flexibility is accuracy. "Laser systems tend to work within the micron range," he says. "Our new vision system won't be that accurate, though it will be
well within the range of automotive body panel tolerances."