Collage of Machine Vision Images

Machine Vision Industrial Camera Revolution

Machine vision technology has revolutionized manufacturing and industry. Today's industrial cameras and imaging systems allow us to see and record images in ways that the ancient visionaries and early developers of image capturing devices could not have imagined.

Machine vision technology has evolved from discoveries made in optics, chemistry, physics, electronics, television, mechanical design, mathematics, software, artificial intelligence, computers and computer vision, and the internet, just to name a few. As certain milestones were met in these various disciplines, they paved the way for imaging systems to be developed for automatic inspection, measurement, process control, and robot guided applications.

This interactive timeline presents some of the key people and events that made it all possible.



Aristotle observes partial solar eclipse by seeing image of the sun projected through small spaces between the leaves of a tree. Over the centuries, this optical phenomenon leads to development of the camera.


500BC - 1700's

Development of the pin-hole camera obscura, initially used to reproduce images to aid in drawing and painting.



Daguerreotype camera, named after its French inventor Louis Daguerre, is first photographic camera developed for commercial manufacture.



Russian scientist and inventor Boris Rosing develops electronic scanning methods of reproducing images.



Kinescope, invented by Russian scientist Vladimir Zworkin, who worked with Rosing, is first practical electronic system for the transmission and reception of images.



RCA and Albert Rose et. al. introduce Image Orthicon tube, winning production contract from US Navy in 1944; it became common video tube in American Broadcasting from 1946-68.



RCA and P. K. Weimer, S. V. Forgue and R. R. Goodrich introduce Vidicon tube, a video camera tube design in which the target material is a photoconductor. Prior to the late 1970s, NASA used Vidicon cameras on most of their unmanned deep space probes equipped with the remote sensing ability.



To offer more image stability and to compete with RCA, Philips introduces the Plumbicon, Hitachi the Saticon (along with Sony and Thomson), and Sony the Trinicon, which Sony also used in some moderate cost professional cameras in the 1980s, such as the DXC-1800 and BVP-1 models.



Larry Roberts, accepted as the 'father of computer vision,' discusses the possibilities of extracting 3D geometrical information from 2D perspective views of blocks (polyhedra) in his MIT PhD thesis.

T.S. Huang 'Computer Vision: Evolution and Promise', University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Abstract



Frank Wanlass, American electrical engineer patents CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) logic circuits used in digital logic circuits as well as analog circuits like CMOS image sensors.



CCD, or charged-couple device is invented at American Bell Laboratories by William Boyle and George E. Smith, allowing for the transfer of a charge along the surface of a semiconductor from one storage capacitor to the next - a major contribution to digital imaging.

Michael Tompsett, British-born physicist who worked at American Bell Laboratories, designed and built the first ever video camera with a solid-state (CCD) sensor, for which he received a patent in 1972.



William K Pratt and Harry C Andrews found the USC Signal and Image Processing Institute (SIPI), one of first in world dedicated to image processing.



Bryce Bayer, an American scientist working for Kodak, brought vivid color image capture to digital photography with the invention of his Bayer filter.


Mid 1980's

Smart cameras for industrial applications are introduced, based on optical mouse (first imaging device and embedded processing unit in a compact system) developed by Richard Lyons at Xerox in 1981

Smart Cameras by A.N. Belbachir, pg 14



Automated Imaging Association (AIA), world's largest Machine Vision Trade Association is established.



Phase 1 incorporates and launches into the machine vision marketplace with the Sony XC-37



IEEE 1394 serial bus interface standard for high speed communications developed by Apple and called Firewire.



Automated Imaging Association (AIA) forms the Camera Link Committee to develop standards.



Phase 1 dedicates itself to the vision and imaging marketplace. Sells off semiconductor group to focus 100% on machine vision.



Phase 1 celebrates its 10th anniversary.



First Phase 1 website launched.



Gigabit Ethernet standard cables and equipment come in to use, challenging distance limitations of cameralink protocol and offering more speed.



Led by companies such as JAI and Basler, Camera Link standard is introduced.



DALSA, JAI A/S, JAI PULNiX, Adimec, Atmel, Basler AG, CyberOptics, Matrox, National Instruments, Photonfocus, Pleora Technologies and Stemmer Imaging co-found GigE Vision Standards Committee to standardize delivery of video and image data over Gigabit Ethernet networks. First version of standard released in 2006.



Sony introduces its first Smart Camera.



USB 3.0 standard is introduced, offering more throughput and 10x faster speed than USB 2.0. Automated Imaging Association announces introduction of USB 3.0 Vision standard in January, 2014.



FLIR introduces the FLIR GF320, 2nd generation Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) camera, a technology first introduced by FLIR Commercial Systems within the EU in 2006, and is now supplied to end user operators, service provider companies and EPA's (Environmental Protection Agencies) worldwide.



BAUMER presents first cameras to contain a dual GigE interface at VISION 2010 in Stuttgart, Germany - the SXG industrial cameras.



Frost & Sullivan report shows that increased computer processing speeds has opened door to new applications, more complex algorithms and enhanced camera capabilities, paving the way for 100% inspection at production line speeds, benefiting industries like automotive, aerospace, food and beverage, and pharmaceutical.



Solving the cost problem of linescan inspection of electro- and photoluminescence of solar panels, Teledyne DALSA introduces its Piranha HS NIR at The Vision Show 2012 in Boston - a TDI linescan camera is capable of detecting wavelengths up to approximately 1150 nm, with a 34.3-kHz line rate supported over a Camera Link Full interface.



Vision robots are learning to work side by side with humans, learning the human's preferences and how to cooperate.