SENSORS & VISION
NI 1742 SMART CAMERA,
By placing image processing capabilities directly on a camera sensor, National Instruments has created an automated inspection camera that's simpler and less costly.
Known as the NI 1742 Smart Camera, the new product is targeted at industrial vision applications ranging from packaging inspection to assembly verification to code reading.
“It's an enabler in applications where cost and complexity are a big concern,” says Matthew Slaughter, Smart Camera product manager for National Instruments. “In any manufacturing plant where they have technicians on the (inspection) line who are not programmers or machine experts, but who still have to get the systems back up and running at 3 a.m., this technology is going to be a help.”
The 1742 Smart Camera accomplishes that by combining a charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensor with an onboard 533-MHz PowerPC processor. Images are analyzed by the PowerPC running NI's LabVIEW Real-Time and the entire suite of the company's vision algorithms, including NI's Vision Builder for Automated Inspection software.
To further reduce complexity, the new camera also incorporates an onboard lighting controller that allows for system lights to be directly driven from the camera. As a result, the camera needs no separate lighting controller, nor associated cabling.
NI engineers say the Smart Camera reduces complexity in another way, too. Instead of sending the bulky image files through the camera bus, it analyzes images on the spot and simply sends out a small file containing the results.
“A lot of these people do not want to send full images across the network,” Slaughter says. “That's a lot of bandwidth, especially if you've got 20 of these systems on your (inspection) line.”
NI wants the newer, simpler technology to attract more manufacturing facilities to automated inspection. “A lot of these applications are being inspected by hand because machine vision is just too hard to do,” Slaughter says. “For those people, we hopefully have the perfect tool.”