Machine vision (MV) is a branch of engineering that uses computer vision in the context of manufacturing. While the scope of MV is broad and a comprehensive definition is difficult to distil, a "generally accepted definition of machine vision is '... the analysis of images to extract data for controlling a process or activity. Put another way, MV processes are targeted at "recognizing the actual objects in an image and assigning properties to those objects--understanding what they mean.
The first step in the MV process is acquisition of an image, typically using cameras, lenses, and lighting that has been designed to provide the differentiation required by subsequent processing. MV software packages then employ various digital image processing techniques to allow the hardware to recognize what it is looking at.
Techniques used in MV include: thresholding (converting an image with gray tones to black and white), segmentation, blob extraction, pattern recognition, barcode reading, optical character recognition, gauging (measuring object dimensions), edge detection, and template matching (finding, matching, and/or counting specific patterns).
Machine vision refers to applications in which the PC automatically makes a decision based on visual input from a camera. Machine vision is a term typically used in industrial manufacturing, where applications range from culling blemished oranges from a conveyor belt to saving lives by inspecting to ensure that the correct drug capsule has been placed in the package before the product is shipped to the pharmacy. Three dimensional vision based measurement systems have made their presence into production metrology applications, notably in the electronics field. However, in the more traditional fields of durable goods now dominated by hard gauges and CMMs, 3D optical systems has been hindered by perceptions and real limitations. This paper will review where 3D vision is today, and what advances have been made to enable more quantitative, shop floor metrology applications. The field of 3D machine vision is a less established field, but one that is actively growing today. Three dimensional vision based measurements have come a long way in the past few years, moving from purely visualization tools that generate attractive color pictures, to serious measurement tools. These 3D systems include laser scanning, structured light, stereo viewing, and laser radar just to name a few.
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