Liquid lenses are a revolutionary technology in machine vision, having only emerged as commercially viable solutions within the past few years. These lenses feature oil and water in a sealed space, acting as a lens without the need for a traditional glass lens with a fixed curvature.
Liquid lenses use the process of electrowetting for rapid autofocus. A current is run through the sealed solution, shaping the oil drop into a lens that can be quickly adjusted based on the strength of the current.
The Benefits of Liquid Lenses for Machine Vision
The most immediate benefit of liquid lenses in machine vision applications is their ability to rapidly change focus. Traditional lens systems require mechanical or even manual adjustments to change focus. Liquid lenses autofocus in just a few milliseconds.
On top of this, liquid lenses are highly versatile. They can be integrated into various places within an existing vision system and feature robust performance for a wide range of applications. They also compact and simple in design, reducing the size and weight of lenses in machine vision systems.
Liquid Lens Applications
The simplicity, versatility and rapid autofocus features of liquid lenses make them ideal in a number of applications. Some of the most common include:
- Machine Vision Inspection: fast autofocus makes liquid lenses perfect in machine inspection systems that deal with fast and high-volume assembly lines.
- Microscopy: high magnification imaging has historically struggled with limited depths of field. Liquid lenses solve this problem by quickly autofocusing on several different object planes in microscopy applications.
- Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs): most UAV applications require regular adjustments to the height of the vehicle and the distance from the objects being captured. Liquid lenses quickly autofocus to maintain high-quality images as height or distance is changed.
- Handheld devices: liquid lenses are compact enough to be used in handheld ID readers. In the future, they may even be robust enough to be integrated into consumer electronics, particularly mobile devices.
Liquid lenses are a revolutionary technology in the machine vision market. While they’re relatively new, they’ve quickly proven their value with unrivaled autofocus speed and flexible integration.
Entirely unique from traditional glass lenses, liquid lenses bring new capabilities to existing machine vision applications for improved performance, productivity, and higher quality images.
To learn more on this subject, browse liquid lenses from leading suppliers at Phase 1 Technology.