What if organizations with large delivery networks could load and safely deliver goods in driverless trucks? What if machines at pharmaceutical factories independently sifted through and inspected medicine vials on the production floor, with not a single human being in sight? Laborious and time-consuming tasks that require high accuracy are today being undertaken by autonomous machines, thanks to a technology called machine vision.
Machine vision uses image processing through intelligent video cameras, along with sensors, and digital signals to provide automated inspection in a number of industrial applications. Simply put, it is a machine’s ability to see—effectively eliminating the need for any human intervention.
Machine vision systems have typically been used in the manufacturing industry for remote assembly-line inspection. Manufacturing companies have progressively adopted the technology as among the fastest, most reliable and accurate forms of industrial inspection. Today, machine vision technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated with improved costs, higher intelligence, intuition, and algorithmic robustness. These advancements could help it assume additional roles and benefits for enterprise—a fact backed by reports that suggest that the global machine vision industry will potentially be worth $5 billion by 2018.
As its scope widens, modern machine vision systems are now being used across industry sectors in diverse functions such as robot guidance, material handling, quality assurance and biometric testing.
The life sciences sector is opening up plenty of opportunities for the machine vision industry. In a sector where regulatory compliance is extremely stringent, data accuracy is critical. To augment quality, pharmaceutical companies are increasingly using machine vision to judge and automate product homogeneity. The technology is also being used across industries like diagnostics, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals for high speed reading of long barcodes, measuring fill levels of medicine bottles, and inspection of small components like syringe needles.
Machine vision is also finding use in automated microscopy, image analysis solutions, non-invasive disease screening and ophthalmology monitoring.
The food and beverage sector is also where machine vision is extremely beneficial. Here, it’s most popular applications include high-speed inspection for defective products, appropriate bottling and product sealing, hygiene and quality checks, and label inspection. It is also used to sort, inspect and grade food items on conveyor belts.
Road safety and traffic management also benefit by using machine vision. With a network of interconnected cameras, the technology can be used for electronic toll collections, travel time information, bus lane enforcement and to read vehicle license plates for speed and red light enforcement.
Machine vision is also seeing rapid growth in the automotive sector, especially in the context of driverless cars. It won’t be long before we see unmanned vehicles on our roads—all equipped with sensors, radars, cameras, and GPS systems to show them the way. Sophisticated machine vision systems will help unmanned vehicles become increasingly predictive, capable of anticipating the actions of other drivers.
Given its high level of accuracy and reliability, the potential of machine vision is immense and it has a significant bearing across a diverse range of industrial functions.
What are your thoughts on the potential industry applications of machine vision? Please leave your comments in the section below.