Green wave with Matrix Vision
From production to the road: Industrial image processing makes smart mobility possible in the first place
At first glance, an industrial camera seems to have little to do with a stress-free trip on vacation. But when you look at little harder, it has a lot to do with it. MATRIX VISION, a brand of Balluff, supports the digitalization of the traffic revolution with its industrial cameras.
Reading barcodes, monitoring fill levels, identifying parts, determining positions – industrial image processing makes processes in manufacturing and logistics efficient and safe today. Knowing everything! The Balluff subsidiary MATRIX VISION from the Swabian town of Oppenweiler is thinking further down the line and knows: Industrial image processing can do more. It makes our lives easier and safer. It helps us find a free parking space or a new route to our vacation without traffic jams and ensures that the traffic light turns green faster. Yes, industrial image processing can do that too – and MATRIX VISION has, in keeping with its brand name, developed a successful business model from a vision. With its high-quality industrial cameras, the Balluff subsidiary supports the global market leaders of traffic systems and thus not only makes road traffic safer, it is also making a decisive contribution to the networked mobility of tomorrow.
Identifying future opportunities
Since its foundation in 1986, MATRIX VISION has been one of the leading companies in the field of industrial image processing. In 2017, after a long-term development partnership, the integration into the Balluff Group took place. Today, MATRIX VISION with its more than 120 employees is the competence center for industrial image processing in the group of companies. The company develops and produces both industrial camera modules and configurable image processing components – including the aforementioned industrial cameras for traffic systems. And there is huge potential in this area, because without image-processing sensor technology, the various modes of transport cannot be converted into a smart, networked mobility system. Image-processing sensor technology provides the data that is evaluated with cloud-based application systems and exchanged between the wide variety of traffic systems and participants. Industrial image processing and the data it collects are therefore crucial for the development toward smart and sustainable mobility, in which cars, pedestrians, cyclists, buses, trains, trucks, traffic lights, traffic control systems and even autonomous vehicles communicate with each other via cloud systems.
Embedded: Eye and brain in one unit
The majority of vision systems on the market today consist of a classic PC, which is located in a control cabinet in an industrial production setting, and the cameras connected to it. The trend toward mobile systems and miniaturization requires the convergence of image capturing and image processing components.
“With embedded vision, we not only supply a camera component, but also the intelligence for signal processing – in other words, the eye and the brain in one unit, so to speak,” says Michael Welscher, key account manager at MATRIX VISION. Industry Manager and colleague Tobias Zimmermann adds: “And it is precisely this approach that makes our industrial cameras, in combination with our software features, a decisive building block for Smart Mobility. They provide information on the traffic infrastructure and thus expand the field of perception of the vehicle and its occupants. In this way, we make a valuable contribution to environmental protection and safety”.
Key to the mobility of tomorrow
The industrial cameras from MATRIX VISION can be integrated in gantries on the freeway to monitor the flow of traffic or in traffic light systems to influence the switching of the traffic light by detecting approaching vehicles. Similarly, they can be used in parking buildings as a component of smart applications to provide information about the occupancy of the parking building to the person looking for a parking space. If all parking spaces are occupied, the person looking for a parking space can avoid having to drive to the parking building. Image processing components from MATRIX VISION are therefore a key to artificial intelligence for the mobility of tomorrow.
Unconditionally consistent image quality
For the image-capturing components, this means that the systems must always deliver consistently high image quality under all conceivable conditions – in changing light conditions, in summer heat and in snowstorms, as well as in constant vibrations. This is made possible by the optimal coordination of image sensors and camera software. Depending on the time of day, for example, different spectra of light can be captured: Visible colors during the day and the near-infrared range at night.
Zimmermann knows: “AI needs reliable data and our image processing systems deliver exactly that. Together with our customers, we develop special hardware and software features to optimally support our customers’ solutions. This is how we make intelligently networked mobility possible in the first place – whether it’s a green wave or a stress-free search for a parking space.”