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Expanding the Boundaries of Machine Vision: Seeing Beyond the Visible Spectrum

POSTED 02/02/2024  | By: Ryan Marti, Product Manager – Machine Vision

Machine vision revolutionized various industries by enabling advanced automation and quality control processes. As technology continues to evolve, machine vision is pushing the boundaries of what is possible, particularly by exploring the invisible realms of the electromagnetic spectrum. By harnessing the power of non-visible light, such as infrared and ultraviolet, vision engineers are uncovering new opportunities for inspection and analysis. In this article, we will explore the concept of seeing beyond the visible spectrum and its implications for various applications.

Understanding the Electromagnetic Spectrum: The electromagnetic spectrum encompasses a wide range of electromagnetic radiation, from gamma rays to radio waves. The human eye can only perceive a small portion of this spectrum, known as the visible spectrum. However, machine vision goes beyond human sight by utilizing different portions of the spectrum to extract valuable information.

Expanding the Spectrum:

Infrared and Ultraviolet: Infrared imaging, traditionally associated with heat detection, allows machine vision systems to capture heat signatures and identify temperature variations. This technology finds applications in areas such as temperature control and even medical imaging. By analyzing infrared images, vision engineers can detect anomalies and make informed decisions.

Ultraviolet light, on the other hand, is commonly used for applications like determining or identifying defects. In machine vision, ultraviolet lighting can provide an additional source of illumination to enhance the detection of small imperfections. This technology is particularly useful in industries such as electronics, semiconductors, and food sorting.

Short Wave Infrared (SWIR): Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) imaging is a powerful tool that allows vision engineers to see beyond what is visible to the human eye. By manipulating SWIR light, they can solve complex inspection challenges that were previously considered impossible. SWIR imaging finds applications in various industries, including electronics, life sciences, food and beverage, and more.

Common SWIR Applications: SWIR imaging has proven to be invaluable in a wide range of applications. In the electronics and semiconductor industry, SWIR is used for wafer inspection, wire bonding, and silicon wafer monitoring. In life sciences, SWIR imaging aids in medical imaging, pill inspection, and environmental monitoring. Additionally, SWIR technology is utilized in food and beverage industries for food sorting, quality control, and moisture detection. These examples demonstrate the versatility and potential of SWIR imaging in solving complex challenges.

The Need for Innovation: As machine vision continues to evolve, it is crucial to push the boundaries and explore new possibilities. By venturing beyond the visible spectrum, vision engineers can unlock new insights and capabilities. T.S. Eliot once said, "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go." This quote resonates with the need for continuous innovation and exploration in machine vision.

Machine vision has come a long way in revolutionizing automation and quality control processes. By expanding beyond the visible spectrum and harnessing the power of non-visible light, vision engineers are pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Infrared, ultraviolet, and SWIR imaging technologies offer new opportunities for inspection, analysis, and problem-solving in various industries. As technology continues to advance, it is essential to embrace innovation and explore the unseen to unlock the full potential of machine vision.