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SOFTWARE A code-free zone


MVTec is the latest soſtware company to introduce a platform for building machine vision applications without programming. Greg Blackman explores why soſtware ease-of-use is such a big issue


T


he factories of the future are predicted to be highly automated affairs, relying on


data from lots of sensors and vast computing resources to analyse and make sense of it all. Machine vision is one type of sensor that would play a role in these smart factories, but while vision is a key automation tool, it is still relatively unyielding when it comes to variation in production environments. On 1 June 2015, MVTec Soſtware


will release its Merlic soſtware platform for building machine vision applications without programming. Te package joins the likes of Matrox Design Assistant from Matrox Imaging and Teledyne Dalsa’s iNspect and Sherlock programs, all of which are designed to make a machine vision application easy to create without any coding. ‘Tanks to its intuitive usability,


Merlic facilitates much faster implementation of applications that used to have to be developed with a great deal of effort,’ commented


Torsten Daus, product manager for Merlic at MVTec Soſtware. ‘It is not so much a matter of handling additional or entirely new tasks, but rather the way in which they are handled, especially with respect to efficiency and work acceleration.’ It’s this programming effort


needed to create a machine vision application that can make vision inflexible, especially when it comes to short production cycles and changing parts – coding for multiple inspection procedures can be time consuming and costly. And it’s just these sorts of automated manufacturing lines that machine vision will have to handle in the factories of the future. Daus said: ‘Today, machine


vision is not commonly used in several flexible production


Merlic’s image-centred user interface enables the creation of machine vision applications without programming knowledge


The ideal interface


would be similar to instructing a human worker on what measures to take… to make a solution


processes or when dealing with frequently changing, low-volume workpieces, because the cost of development and constant adaptation is simply too high. However, these areas are the future of industrial manufacturing.’ Tis is


just one area that would benefit from


more intuitive vision soſtware, but there are many other non- industrial applications that would also gain – Daus listed service robotics, autonomous vehicles and agricultural technology, as three potential areas. A lot of work is going into


making machine vision soſtware for the non-expert user. Ben Dawson at Teledyne Dalsa commented that ‘most of our soſtware effort is in making machine vision soſtware easier to use for the non- programmer’. Teledyne Dalsa’s iNspect soſtware


Teledyne Dalsa’s iNspect software. Users can drag-and-drop tools onto an image to create a vision application


14 Imaging and Machine Vision Europe • April/May 2015


has a graphical user interface where users drag-and-drop ‘tools’, such as callipers, onto an image to build an application quickly. Te company’s Sherlock soſtware also has a


graphical programming interface where elements are dragged and dropped into an instruction tree. Merlic operates in a similar


manner using graphical tools to build up a vision application, while Matrox Design Assistant is an integrated development environment (IDE) where the user constructs flowcharts instead of programming. ‘Machine vision soſtware can be


seen to fall into of one of two broad categories,’ explained Pierantonio Boriero, product line manager at Matrox Imaging. ‘Firstly, the library or SDK, and, secondly, the integrated development environment where development is performed graphically and interactively.’ Te former requires traditional


computer programming which can be laborious and, noted Boriero, even overwhelming. ‘Developing the overall application this way, with not only the vision task but also with a user interface, automation equipment interactions, and enterprise communication can require combining several application programming interfaces from different vendors and coding some functionality from the ground up,’ he said. ‘Tis has led to the creation of the IDE, like Matrox


@imveurope www.imveurope.com


Teledyne Dalsa


MVTec Software


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