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Cognex Founder Presents History of Machine Vision to Bristol Area Lions Club 05/07/2011

Posted by DS in meetings, speakers.
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The Bristol Area Lions Club welcomed Dr. Bill Silver to a recent meeting where he gave a presentation called, “How Do They Get Those Chocolates in that Box? A Brief History of Machine Vision.” One of the founders of Cognex Corporation, a pioneer and leader in the field of vision guided robotic assembly, Dr. Silver provided a fascinating history of that aspect of industrial production.

Anything manufactured in volume, from cellphones to chocolate bars and from aspirin to semiconductors, is guided by vision guided robotic assembly. Whereas most digital imaging involves humans, machine vision is done entirely with robotics. Without machine vision, consumer products might not all be perfect when found on a store shelf. Production lines with conveyor belts benefit from machine vision to eliminate imperfect products from those lines, whether they be misshapen, or lacking a label, or missing certain components.

The concept of machine vision began in the 1960s, in the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT. Advances in camera technology and the development of digital imaging allowed the science to grow and become a valuable tool in industrial automation. In 1980, Cognex was founded to manufacture machine vision systems, software, and sensors used in automated manufacturing to inspect and identify parts, detect defects, and to guide assembly robots. They were one of the first companies to explore commercial applications for machine vision and today their markets include semiconductors and electronics manufacturing along with pharmaceutical, automotive, healthcare, packaging, aerospace and consumer products manufacturing. As chief technology officer for Cognex, Silver admits that machine vision is very much still a work in progress, but that continued advances in software should help the technique become even more precise and cost-effective to manufacturers.

The next meeting of the Bristol Area Lions Club takes place on Monday, May 16, when historian Peter Hope will give a presentation on his recently published history of New Harbor, as well as a an overview of his latest project compiling the history of Round Pond. To make dinner reservations for that meeting, or to learn more about the Bristol Area Lions Club, please call 677-2095.

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