Archive for July 26th 2012

From inspecting the packaging of consumer goods to surveilling traffic to identifying cells with fluorescence, vision techniques are increasingly being used in every industry imaginable. Whether you are using vision to improve the quality of your finished goods, guide your robot, or add traceability to improve your process, here are five considerations to keep in mind when you choose your vision system.


  1. Software is the key

    Ease of use is all about abstracting technology components in a system so that you can meet familiar application challenges as a domain expert. This means you can concentrate on your vision inspection while NI worries about how to make your applications work for different camera standards and take advantage of the latest hardware advancements.

    NI LabVIEW graphical programming software also provides a powerful and easy-to-learn environment (compared to text-based programming), and gives you access to hundreds of functions to enhance images, measure parts, identify objects, check for presence, and locate features through the NI Vision Development Module.


    Through software, you can model system variations to see if your inspection will stand up to motion blur, changes in lightin, and camera      position. These common issues in vision systems can be seen in the image above.

  2. Choosing the right camera

    Each application is best suited to a certain type of image sensor, with options spanning area-scan, monochrome, and color sensors as well as specialty sensors such as thermal (infrared), 3D, and line-scan. It is important to be aware of inspection conditions when choosing among these different sensor types.  For example, inspecting quick-moving rolls of textile requires a line-scan sensor while measuring hot metal in a dusty, dark environment requires a thermal camera.

    NI has made it a priority to support the most widely used imaging standards and strives to integrate support for new technologies. With the NI Vision Acquisition Software driver package, you can use a common framework to acquire images from smart cameras; traditional plug-in frame grabbers using analog, parallel digital, and Camera Link standards; and consumer buses such as GigE Vision, USB, and IEEE 1394. These drivers are the first to natively support image acquisition from GigE Vision and IEEE 1394 cameras in real time.

  3. Intelligent vision through industrial connectivity.....

To read about numbers 3 through 5 as well as dive deeper into the first too points, check out this article on vision systems>>>

Some LabVIEW users might look at this code and say that it is too complicated for the simple task that it is trying to solve, creating a calculator, but to a software engineer it looks beautiful.

While taking time to create a scalable framework does add time to a project, you will reap the benefits later when trying to maintain or extend your applications functionality later. While the exact implementation can always be debated, NI Community member ChrisV should be applauded for his good programming practices in his calculator VI that he posted onto the community.


To test drive his code for yourself or add comments about the implementation, check out his post here>>>



Dr. Richard Thomas shares his passion for LabVIEW and how the software is essential to his career.




Q: What were some of the first projects you worked on with LabVIEW?


A: In 2000, I was completing my PhD studies at Leicester University where LabVIEW 6i was controlling and acquiring data from a large-scale wind tunnel. I took to the concept of graphical programming like a duck to water and began using LabVIEW to acquire, process, and present the masses of data I was collecting. Because it was so easy to experiment and explore software ideas, I quickly created an interactive, animated plot to show a measured boundary layer time variation, which I could export as a movie file.       When I later worked at the University of Cambridge, I created numerous software solutions for myself and students, including high-speed data acquisition, 3-axis robotic probe controls, and APIs for communicating across instruments. I also created a network-enabled safety-monitoring application for students working in isolated laboratories. LabVIEW drivers made it easy to communicate with most third-party hardware. 


Q: What did you do to improve your LabVIEW programming skills?


A: I initially just explored LabVIEW, examined existing code, and interacted on the NI forums to learn programming techniques. When I joined Product Technology Partners Ltd, I started a more rigorous training program. By studying the resources and training manuals on the NI website, I honed my software development skills and became a Certified LabVIEW Architect (CLA). The training helped advance my professional approach to designing full software solutions for customers. 


Q: How has LabVIEW helped advance your career? 


A: LabVIEW has been absolutely instrumental in my career. After studying aerodynamics for many years, I realized in 2008 that LabVIEW development was what I really wanted to do. I took an ambitious sideways leap into the software consultancy world and I’ve never looked back. Becoming a CLA raised my profile in my local LabVIEW developer community. LabVIEW is the largest part of my unfolding career and I couldn’t imagine a future without it! 


Q: How do you give back to the LabVIEW Community? 


A: I help run one of only two LabVIEW user groups in the UK. As a regular presenter and host of the Cambridge LabVIEW User Group, I’m happy to share my knowledge and experience with other developers. I’m also a regular contributor to the NI Community and NI Discussion Forums, and I participate in the LabVIEW beta program. My community contributions recently helped me become the first UK developer accepted into the prestigious LabVIEW Champions group, which is made up of members from the global community who are recognized for helping grow LabVIEW adoption and proficiency. 


Read more about LabVIEW Champions at and the Cambridge LabVIEW user group at

Hold on to your electric vehicle seat; energy is going digital. When a technology goes digital, it changes everything. For starters, the rate of technology improvement takes a new slope—transitioning from glacially slow to exponentially fast. Think about online search and how it changed the way we find information, how social media changed the way we receive news, and how electronic books and e-readers changed the way we buy books. When a technology goes digital, words like “library,” “newspaper,” and “bookstore” start to sound like relics of the past.




When an analog technology goes digital, it becomes an information technology—a software problem. The digital energy revolution is enabled by powerful software tools, ample computing power, secure Internet backbones, specialized embedded hardware systems, and one more thing—power electronics.


To read more specifics on how you will be impacted by this digital revolution in energy, check out this article>>>