We noticed the other day that Vision 2013, which was to have been held in Stuttgart in September of 2013 has been canceled and will become an every-other-year event beginning in 2014. See article.
Is this good or bad for the machine vision industry?
Does it signal anything about the global state of the industry or is it rather a commentary on tradeshows? Or both?
According to the organizers, "The new biennial cycle will extend the leading position of Vision still further and consolidate its importance as a global innovation platform," said Ulrich Kromer, managing director of Messe Stuttgart. "Thanks to this strategic development, Vision will also be adapted to the changed needs of the machine vision industry."
The operative words here are "consolidate" & "global innovation platform".
Keynote Photonics (based in the U.S.) has attended Vision the last couple of years but not exhibited there. We have participated as an exhibitor or with an exhibitor at Photonics West for the last 3 shows.
So, we can relate to what the Vision organizers might be pointing to.
It's simpy about ROI for all involved.
Frankly, it's near impossible for companies to come up with new innovations in time for every tradeshow an organization might want to attend. Few products are developed in less than a year and most have a longer than one year lifecycle. As such, tradeshows held every year have a high risk of becoming repetitive – many of the same products two, even three years in a row all viewed by many of the same attendees.
For both exhibitors and attendees that drives the question of ROI. To exhibit at a tradeshow on your own continent, let alone one held across an ocean, is a non-trivial effort and expense. It’s easy to spend $50,000 USD or more when you account for all the costs incurred. That’s money that could be spent on additional development and innovation that could be marketed in other ways. If you have an 18 month development cycle, it would be tempting to skip a repeat show in 12 months and rather wait until you have new story to tell in 2 years.
Maybe attendance is the big value item for your organization. You can see the latest innovations, attend conferences and have series of productive meetings. By not being an exhibitor or needing to exhibit, you lower the bar needed for a positive return. However, if the shows are getting to be all the same, the conference content is not so fresh and it’s only meetings you have left from which to extract value, you may have several more effecitve options for that.
While we weren’t there as the organizers and exhibitors for Vision held discussions that led to this decision, we can imagine these are some of the points that came up.
Bottom line is this: for tradeshows (in any industry) to succeed in general, they have to deliver a better ROI (or better perceived ROI) than the alternatives. In the past, it was sometimes challenging to analyze marketing ROI; perceived ROI was a bigger factor. Not so much anymore with modern analytics. It’s pretty easy to determine what actions you are taking that are driving the best results.
That’s one reason we changed our strategy at Keynote in this regard as well. We did not have a Keynote Photonics booth at Photonics West in 2013. Instead, we opted to participate in a partners’ booth – an option available to us as a DLP Design House for Texas Instruments. A win-win really – TI was able to have a more robust and vibrant booth with lower out of pocket costs to fill and staff it. Companies like Keynote Photonics were able to display our newest products. For some “newest” was last year. For others there were innovations since last year to show. Keynote worked to be in the latter group and was pleased to show the new LC3000-PRO (a major enhancement to the DLP Lightcrafter). If you didn’t get to attend Photonics West, take a look at this short video to see the LC3000-PRO in action (and see the snazzy TI booth for free!)...
For more on the LC3000-PRO - click below.
In the end, I think the folks at Vision have probably made a good decision. To stay competetive and provide the best ROI to both exhibitors and attendees, a two year cycle gives companies time to develop and ready new innovations. That means more new products can be debuted there - the marketing folks like debuts. Attendees like new stuff too and will have more reasons to attend and to meet with exhibitors and each other.
What do you think - did Vision make the right call?
Simply, the LC3000-Pro picks up where the TI LightCrafter EVM leaves off.
We use the same light-engine core and mechanical structure. We extend the design with a forced-air thermal solution and chassis design that can be either embedded inside a product or stand-alone. We added a focus locking mechanism maintains the system focus position over time or vibration
Second, we’ve developed a new LED driver design that allows all three of the LED channels to be used simultaneously. This allows the maximum brightness potential possible for white-light scanning applications.
We also designed the driver to support easy use of other light-sources...
Each channel of the driver can provide up to 5 A of current and over a range of forward voltages. Instead of the flex-circuit found in the original LightCrafter design, a standard board-wire connector is used. You’ll need to be careful in how you set the current levels – this kind of drive system can overheat the DMD specification (about 65°C).
The LC3000 supports the same embedded LightCrafter software and API. We plan to offer custom solutions in the future too. We will also offer a version of the LC3000 that uses the baseline driver design as well as an electronics only version for those users developing their own optical system.
The LC3000-PRO was announced by Keynote on Feb 4 just before Photonics West 2013. (read the Press release on PRWEB)
Please stop by the TI booth (South Hall 1331) at Photonics West 2013 to see our demo and explore how the LC3000 can help you.
We've uploaded a new FlexLight X3 tutorial which shows the X3-PM55 machine vision controller initial hardware setup. It's quick 6 minute overview on the FlexLight X3-PM55, the key connections & components and basic setup. In it you will learn more about the board before purchase or you can use the video to speed up your first out-of-the-box installation.
The setup demonstrated is for using the board in conjunction with the FL200 Control Manager Software. See the FL200 video here There are reference to setup in LightCommander mode for those interested in that, although we plan a separate video for that mode in the future.
Please let us know if you have any questions.
We're pleased to announce the pre-release of an dynamic link library (DLL) file that will allow commerical programs such as Matlab and Labview, or user software to directly communicate and control the X3 products.
The X3-MVC and X3-PM55 come with a complete GUI for creating various patterns, stepping sequences and other system control. This new software provides the same access as the FL200 GUI. We can provide example scripts of Matlab routines now.
Now you can directly create a custom bit-map and send it directly to the X3 without any intermediate steps! Great for creating a dynamic spectral wavelength filter for spectrocopy or a intelligent light aperture.
Please contact us for access to the alpha release. We would also love to hear your ideas on what kind of functions you want to make your development process or application work better.
Keynote Photonics has released on new video tutorial on setting up the FlexLight X3 FL200 control manager software to create basic structured lighting patterns for machine vision, spectroscopy and other industrial applications.
The FlexLight X3 family provides machine vision system developers a solution which is production ready and also comes with development features to shorten time to market. The FlexLight X3-PM55 is also software compatible with TI's DLP LightCommander tool. Based on a 0.55" XGA DLP chipset the, The X3-PM55 enables smaller system solutions, flexible opto-mechanical designs and rapid development and productization. To learn more get the X3 overview by clicking on the button below.
To use the FL200 Control Manager for development of structure lighting patterns for machine vision and other applications you will need the X3-PM55 module, a Windows based PC, cables and a viewing monitor or projector. Stay tuned for the next video which will detail hardware setup.
As a DLP Design House, we are pleased to join Texas Instruments DLP group during the upcoming TI Tech Days in Boston Ma. USA & Vancouver, BC, Canada.
We'll be demonstrating the FlexLight X3 Machine Vision Solution (X3-PM55) based on the .55 DLP devices in the TI DLP booth.
The TI Tech Days Abstract: "Join Texas Instruments for a day packed with technical design seminars. The IC training is aimed at providing a learning forum for design engineers where practical high-performance solutions, tools and workshops are presented for analog and digital technologies. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet with a number of Texas Instruments’ experts and gain valuable ideas for solving your technical challenges!"
for more information visit TI Tech Days Website
The Boston event is Sept 25th, 2012 at the Sheraton Framingham and Vancouver is on Oct 3rd 2012 at the Vancouver Convention Center.
Come meet both TI DLP staff and Keynote Photonics staff and get a demo of the X3-PM55 at any time during the event and see more about how the X3 could fit into your machine vision, structured lighting or spectroscopy application.
New Entry Point for X3 Machine Vision Family
It's been a busy July and August looks to be the same. At Keynote Photonics, there has been a lot of work done on the FlexLight X3 Machine Vision Controller solution in terms of software and firmware enhancements based on various requests and needs identified.
We also have some exciting news on the marketing side including a new entry level configuration of the X3-MVC and a new university program.
The X3-MVC is now available in the MVC-A (the original configuration) or MVC-B configurations. The MVC-B offers a lower price option by taking off a couple of the special purpose features and options available on the MVC-A. The pattern rate performance on the MVC-A ranges from VGA @ 120 Hz all the way up to WUXGA @ 60 Hz. The MVC-B tops out at WXGA @ 120 Hz. The MVC-A supports an optional (custom) dual camera, frame grabber & buffer, not available on the MVC-B. The X3-MVC-B provides a new price point of $1499.00 in the X3 Machine Vision Controller family.
The X3-UC1 and X3-PM55 members of the family are unchanged and still based on the X3-MVC-A. The X3-PM55 is the TI LightCommander compatible version.
Get X3 info, click the button:
New Keynote Photonics University Program
In addition we are pleased to announce the new Keynote Photonics University Program which offers qualifying university customers a 10% discount on select X3 family members. Specifically, the program applies to the X3-MVC-A, X3-UC1 and X3-PM55 solutions.
In order to qualify, the purchaser needs to have a univeristy physical address and a ".edu" email address. To apply, simply visit the Keynote Photonics eStore account setup page and create a free account. In addition to needed contact & address information, please include "university program" in the comment field of the app. After that, we'll confirm the information and add you to the university customer group. Any applicable discounts on X3 or future qualifying products will be automatically applied when you add approved items to the cart. No coupons, no codes. Simple. The best part is you can order up to 10 items all at once or over time and receive the discount on all 10.
Let us know if you any questions.
DLP Solutions from Large to Small
Several options now exist to develop industrial products using DLP® technology compared to the choices just a few years ago. Which DLP solution is best for your application?
DLP Discovery Kits & FlexLight X1
The most flexible and high switching bandwidth is provided by TI's Discovery D4100 chipset. This chipset supports both a .95" 1080P and a .7" XGA DMD devices. The DMD's are available with UV support option for those applications such as lithography that use UVA or UVB spectrums. If you the fastest possible pattern rate, this chipset is what you need. The tradeoff for this switching speed is the time and effort to program the application FPGA (a Xilinx Vertex5 FPGA).
Keynote offers the KP4100 Discovery Starter Kit (see photo on left) solution based on the D4100 chipset. Visit our DLP Discovery Section in the eStore for full details.
For less demanding applications or for those needing a lower cost development option, Keynote offers the FlexLight X1. Based on a different chipset but using the same 1080P DMD, the X1 board allows you apply a dual 60 Hz 1080P channels to create a 120 Hz, 30-bits pattern rate. FlexLight X1 also supports the .96" WUXGA DMD.
FlexLight X3-PM55 - Alternative to LightCommander
Stepping further down the cost curve are solutions using the DLP5500 chipset, which is built around a .55" XGA DMD using a Series 450 package. TI originally promoted a development system called LightCommander™ which was introduced in 2010.
Keynote extended the functionality offered in the original LightCommander electronics and has introduced a production ready development system called the FlexLight X3-PM55. It supports the D5500 GUI development environment. Ideal for visible light applications - such as machine vision, the X3 does everything the original LightCommander electronics could do and more by providing dynamic pattern generation, real-time frame capture and many other capabilities. The DLP5500 DMD can support LED or Lamp illumination as high as 3000 lumens.
We also offer a low-cost FlexLight X3-MVC version that can be used with ordinary commercial data projectors to provide a low cost approach to machine vision applications using structured light patterns. Check out the FlexLight X3 family in the Keynote eStore
DLP LightCrafter Optical Engine
The least costly option (and smallest size) is the LightCrafter™. It is build around a DLP pico projector engine using a DLP3000 WXGA DMD. The compact size is ideal for portable applications but is limited to about 50 lumens with after market cooling modifications (note that the system sold by TI runs about 20-30 lumens out of the box). At $600 (direct from TI), it is a very affordable option to explore DLP technology if the DMD/ light engine is suitable for your needs.
Keynote Photonics offers standalone, production ready LightCrafter optical engines on our eStore and are starting work on offering a complete drive solution that is production ready. We would love to hear from users on what they need to support their applications.
As always, we are happy to take your questions and try to match your needs with the right solution. What kind of DLP solution fits your needs? Comment below
There is a trend towards portable and handheld machine vision and illumination systems for industrial applications. The trend was in evidence at the recent CONTROL show in Stuttgart, Germany earlier this month which is focused on quality control and inspection equipment.
It's been our observation that machine vision systems are centering on three general levels of illumination for structured lighting, driven by the size of the objects under inpsection and the operating environment of the equipment. On the large side where the equipment is often tripod mounted, 3000 lumens illumination systems fit the bill. In the middle, where the equipment is often mounted on a swing or robotic arm, 300 lumens are desired. Finally, in the smaller & emerging handheld space, 30 lumens can address many of the needs there today.
As a DLP® Design House, Keynote Photonics is always looking for ways to make DLP Technology easier to use and more available for industrial applications. Before we look at the latest option that does that, let's refresh on one of the tools from Texas Instruments.
A popular development tool in the market, offered by Texas Instruments, is the DLP LightCrafter™ Evaluation Module (EVM). The LightCrafter is based on a 0.3 WVGA DMD and comes complete with an optical engine, drive electronics and processor module. It's a great little platform for development and prototyping for solutions in the 30 lumen range.
In the past, after developing their prototype system, it's not been straightforward for many system designers to acquire or develop the LightCrafter optical sub-system by itself for use production as TI doesn't sell the optical engine as a standalone item.
We're excited to expand our product portfolio further with the addition of a DLP Lightcrafter optical engine.
DLP LightCrafter Light Engine - coming soon from Keynote Photonics
This light engine is complete and matches the same specifications as the optical engine that comes with the Texas Instruments EVM. The optical engine includes the DLP3000 DMD and LED's. It can plug in to the existing LightCrafter drive electronics or a custom design (which uses the DLPC300 Controller)
We will be taking pre-orders for the engine shortly on the Keynote eStore and plan to start shipping the engines in early 3Q.
We're also planning to offer a production-ready set of drive electronics (which will include the DLPC300) that can be used in your machine vision, spectroscopy, or other application. More on that later.
We'd love to hear your ideas on what kind of solution would be right for you.
Tis the season for machine vision. Spring and early summer is the time for slew of machine vision, industrial automation and control shows around the world. This year is no different. What seems to be different is attendance and the impact of machine vision on the shows. The interest in and deployment of machine vision systems is on the rise.
Automation Worlds, held earlier this month in Korea, is reporting a 15% increase in attendance and attributing 50% of that to the addition of a machine vision sub-event to the show this year – reports say Machine Vision market is the equivalent of $525M USD just in Korea. VISION Japan started April 25th in Yokohoma, Japan. CONTROL 2012 kicks of May 8th in Stuttgart, Germany. At the same time, AIA’s The VISION Show starts in Boston, Massachusetts. That’s four major global events in a 30 day span. Time to get down to the show floor or on a plane folks!
Why Machine Vision and Why Now?
The simple answer as to why Machine Vision is grabbing attention is: Economics.
The AIA summarizes the machine vision value proposition this way on their website (http://www.visiononline.org):
- improve processes
- reduce waste
- find results faster
- improve decision making
- reduce errors
- improve quality
- increase safety
- stay compliant with
- improve your bottom
- and more!
Those are all pretty good reasons to consider adopting a technology. “Why now” is driven by the other side of the economics coin – acquisition cost. At Keynote Photonics, we’ve seen a major push by manufacturers to drive to lower system costs.
In fact, the sub-system evolution has gained the attention of the semiconductor industry. While the number of application specific elements and innovations now available or in development across the industry is beyond the scope of this post, the sheer size of the effort is instructive. Just turn up your Google Alerts and watch the flow for a few days. It implies two key elements needed for the next level of growth: First, demand pull on features down to the component level. Second, the perceived size of the machine vision market has captured the attention of entire value chain.
Keynote Photonics is a part of the machine vision value chain and is addressing the request we heard most often over the last year. That request was to enable “smaller and brighter”. Translated, like any industry at the verge of turning the corner, that also means “more for less.” Keynote’s role is to help system designers get the most out of structured lighting using DLP technology.
So, a lot of signals suggest machine vision technology deployments are on the verge of taking off. A push for lower cost, with better features that is being addressed across the value chain (because they see upside in investing in development) suggest the economics are coming into balance on both sides of the equation and that expansion will follow. In tech, lower prices and smaller form factors generally lead to wider and deeper deployments that lead to a sustainable economic model. Is it machine visions’ time?