This section provides an overview for image processors as well as their applications and principles. Also, please take a look at the list of 9 image processor manufacturers and their company rankings. Here are the top-ranked image processor companies as of December, 2023: 1.NXP Semiconductors, 2.Cognex Corporation, 3.Broadcom.
An image processor is a device that processes images taken by a camera or other device to measure and analyze the characteristics of an object based on the images.
Such image processing is performed on a computer, and the results of the analysis can be reflected in other equipment.
Image processing devices make it possible to recognize the shape of objects, measure distances, and count the number of pieces. By feeding this information back to other devices that combine this information, automation of all kinds of objects becomes possible.
Image processing equipment is used in a wide range of applications, from everyday life to industrial and medical fields.
In recent years, IoT technology combined with human intelligence and machine learning has also been actively developed to automate and improve the efficiency of various human activities.
Although there are various types of image processing devices depending on the application, they are basically composed of a camera and a computer.
After images captured by the camera are transferred to the computer, they are pre-processed for image processing. What exactly is done depends on the application.
For example, when measuring the number of subjects, filter processing is used to remove noise, sharpen the image, and make it binary in order to extract the characteristics of the subject. This produces an image in which the areas where subjects exist are set to 1, and the areas where they do not exist are set to 0 and can be treated as a matrix with only 0s and 1s as elements.
This matrix can then be used to measure the number of objects by segmenting each object using kernel processing, etc.
Using packaged image processing software, a variety of processes, including these, can be performed.
In recent years, attempts have also been made to increase the accuracy of analysis and feature extraction by combining these existing image processing software with machine learning and AI technologies.
In the history of manufacturing, there has always been a need for systems that automate without human intervention, and this has evolved in the field of factory automation (FA), the automation of production processes.
In recent years, with the dramatic advances in image processing technology, the role of these systems has become increasingly important, not only in replacing workers with machines but also in production control systems to improve productivity and quality and reduce costs. Image processing systems that combine cameras and sensors with image processing equipment play a central role in this process.
Due to the global labor shortage and the growing need for safety in food and other products, inspection systems combining manpower-saving systems with image processing systems are becoming increasingly important in the automotive, food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics-related fields. In addition, further improvements in image processing and sensor technologies have expanded the range of inspection capabilities, and the visual inspection business combining image processing systems and deep learning is gaining momentum.
One area of future focus is image sensors that utilize smartphones. With the addition of attachments and applications, smartphones can easily be used as image processing devices to read barcodes and inspect text. Since they can be easily integrated with e-commerce, they are expanding not only into the manufacturing industry but also into the logistics and retail sectors.
Image processing software used in inspection and quality control used to be developed by creating specifications and designing from system requirements when building a system, but as the processing capacity of image processing equipment has improved and the types and packages of highly versatile inspection software have become abundant, image processing software can be freely combined and used. However, as the processing capacity of image processing equipment has improved and the variety of versatile inspection software types and packages has increased, it is now possible to freely combine and utilize such software.
Packages include, for example, shape, area, color, position, and flaw determination, as well as combined length, angle, and diameter measurement software.
More recently, image processing software employing deep learning has been used to enhance recognition capabilities by allowing the software to learn in the same way as humans, and is being introduced as a replacement for tasks that were previously performed by visual inspection.
For example, it is now possible to distinguish scratches from defects in more detail, and in character recognition, it is now possible to improve the accuracy of recognition of handwritten characters.
In the field of medicine, it is now possible to detect and treat diseases that are difficult to detect with the human eye, and in the field of crime prevention, it is possible to identify individuals from images captured by security cameras.
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Broadcom Inc., established in 1961, and headquartered in San Jose, California, is a manufacturer and supplier of semiconductor and connectivity solutions. The company specializes in producing products, such as semiconductors, infrastructure software, networking products, storage products, wireless products in which their products cater to industries such as telecommunications, data centers, and consumer electronics. Their products are used for various applications, including wireless communication, networking equipment, data storage, and multimedia devices, providing components for advanced technologies in numerous industrial and commercial sectors.
Cognex Corporation, an American company founded in 1981 and headquartered in Natick, Massachusetts, is a manufacturer and supplier of machine vision and industrial barcode reading products. The company's product portfolio includes vision sensors, 3D vision systems, fixed-mount barcode readers, handheld barcode readers, and vision software. These products find applications in various industries, including automation equipment, automotive, consumer products, electronics, and life science solutions. The company also offers customer services, including technical support, product training, hardware programs, product lifecycle, and warranty programs. The company has facilities in the Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe to facilitate the global supply of its products.
Pepperl+Fuchs, Inc. was founded in Mannheim, Germany in 1945 developing the forerunner of the proximity switch. Pepperl+Fuchs continues to develop proximity sensors as well as other industrial sensors including ultrasonic sensors, rotary encoders, positioning systems, display and signal processing, vibration monitoring, industrial communication, and signal processing as well as related accessories and software. Explosive protection products include safety barriers, surge protection, wireless solutions, HMI systems, power supplies, electrical explosion protection equipment, level measurement, and related software.
NXP was established in 2006 as a spinoff from Phillips and is headquartered in Eindhoven, Netherlands. The company is a co-founder of NFC communication and designs and manufactures semiconductors that serve the automotive, industrial, mobile, and smart home industries. The company’s automotive products include driver assistance transceivers, sensors, and security systems. For industrial markets, the company produces RFID readers, processors, and microcontrollers. For communication infrastructure, the company produces RF mixers, diodes, and low-noise amplifiers for wireless LAN networks. The company also produces peripherals, power management chips, communications chips, and interface devices.
Datalogic was founded in 1972 along the outskirts of Bologna, Italy. The company is a manufacturer of scanning and optical devices for industries such as retail, manufacturing, transportation & logistics, and healthcare. The company’s product lines include fixed and handheld scanners for retail and industrial purposes, vehicle-mounted computers and handheld computers, laser marking systems, and other industrial scanners and data-sensing machines. The company offers aftercare services including ease of care service.
Advantech Co., Ltd., established in 1981 in Neihu District, Taipei, is a pioneering manufacturer and designer of a range of products, solutions, and services. The company boasts an extensive product portfolio that includes system integration, customer-centric design services, cutting-edge embedded systems, automation products, and global logistics support. Its aim is to usher in an era of an intelligent planet through its automation and embedded computing products and solutions. These diverse products and services empower smarter ways of working and living to enhance the quality of life and productivity across various industries.
Festo Corporation, established in 1925 and headquartered in Esslingen, Germany, is a supplier of automation technology and technical education and is ISO 9001, ISO 13485, and ISO14001 certified. It has around 33,000 catalog products, customized components, and ready-to-install solutions, including grippers, motors, and sensors used in industrial and process automation. The company won the German Future Award in 2010 and serves 300,000 customers worldwide, while its education division provides training solutions for 56,000 industrial companies and educational institutions. It registered €3.81 billion in the 2022 financial year and is available in around 60 countries, with 2,600 patents worldwide.
Omron Corporation, started in 1933 and headquartered in Kyoto, Japan, is a manufacturer of automation components, equipment, and systems, and it developed the first contactless proximity switch in 1960. It has four domains, including industrial automation, electronic components, healthcare, and social systems, and it provides products and services in around 120 countries and regions. Some of its products include microsensing devices, access control systems, industrial robots, surveillance cameras, and blood pressure monitors. In 1971, it developed the first online cash machine, and in 1972, it established Japan’s first welfare factory.
14 products are listed.