To coincide with AIA Vision Week, an online five-day event of speakers and industry product showcase, MVPro has rekindled the quickfire Q&A.
We have sought the opinions of presenters, businesses and sponsors on this new online conference format, how they have adapted to the format and also their views on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Christian Felsheim, Director Headwall Photonics Europe, provides the answers.
What’s your view on the ‘virtual’ conference?
I think that the ability to adapt to this challenging time is a hallmark of a robust and successful organisation. We are living through something that is unprecedented in our experience. Some organisations have cancelled or postponed their events without a plan in place to move to a virtual, online alternative.
Others such as the AIA and USGIF have performed admirably under difficult circumstances. People will remember what we do during this time, and the important thing is to adapt where you can, and to make every effort to reinforce our business and personal relationships.
On a positive note, many global businesses such as Headwall have been using tools such as online tele-and video-conferencing for some time, and the vendors of these solutions really stepped up their game to keep us going.
I think that the world will be changed after the number of incidences of COVID-19 fall to levels where we can all go out in public with fewer restrictions again. We’ve certainly learned that one must be prepared to make changes to things like work-hours scheduling, travel, and even to office layout at an active facility if we want to continue to serve our customers.
I hope that we carry with us the slogan that Headwall’s headquarters state has promoted: “we are all in this together”. And I might add that “we will get through this together.”
What products will you be showcasing and how does this work?
Just prior to the big breakout of the pandemic, we introduced the Headwall MV.X, an industry-first embedded, IP67-rated hyperspectral imaging system. The system turns the up-to-now complex process of hyperspectral measurement to a standard line-scan imaging process, which outputs analyzed and actionable data to control a robot or a sorting machine in real-time without the need for additional high-performance computing devices or any other post-processing.
Hyperspectral imaging measures the detailed spectral information of the light reflected from the objects to be analysed. The reflected spectral information provides quantitative as well as qualitative information which otherwise could only be obtained using time-consuming chemical or physical analysis. This is well suited for all kinds of sorting and/or quality inspection applications.
The performance of the MV.X hyperspectral imaging system is driven by low-noise, high dynamic state-of-the-art CMOS sensor technology, master-quality spectral diffraction optics, fast embedded CPU/GPU computing and powerful machine-learning software Mira from per Class.
The MV.X can store a classification and/or regression algorithms and apply that knowledge to fresh data captured with its detector. The MV.X applies the stored classification algorithm in its small but powerful onboard processor to what it sees in the VNIR (400 to 1,000nm) wavelength range and outputting a false-color classified image. The image itself is neat, but the real value is utilizing that image to trigger devices such as sorting or removal robots down the line. The MV.X can be used as the training system itself. So, changes can be made by simply saving a new classifier for a new substance, for example, without having to painstakingly reconfigure optical filters, lenses, and even cameras themselves when the products on a processing line change. The MV.X is also networkable, so configuration and monitoring can be done over the network—something that proponents of IoT have been advocating for aspects of the machine vision industry for some time.
What presentations will you be tuning into?
- Artificial Intelligence – Who Will be Affected and How Will Things Change in Your Organisation
- Innovative Machine Vision Applications at Procter & Gamble
- Decoding Mixed Reality for Enterprise
- Vision Standards Update – Vision Interface Standards
- The State of the Vision Industry Executive Roundtable
- How to Build FDA Approved Medical Imaging Applications
How have you and the business adapted during the COVID-19 crisis?
Since we are a global company with customers all over the world, we had the advantage of already using online meeting and conferencing tools. But one area that we are currently learning to do better is hosting online demos, seminars, and webinars.
Many of our customer events have been hosted in tradeshow booths or at customer facilities. There is of course a difference in demonstrating an imaging system on site as compared with hosting a virtual event over the Internet using a webcam and screensharing, and that is something that we are not alone in experiencing. On the positive side, we’ve seen a tremendous surge in online attendance. One seminar that we originally planned to host on location at the University of Florida for perhaps 40 or 50 researchers was quickly turned into an online seminar that ultimately had more than 600 registrants and almost 400 who attended the live event.
Most of those attendees are now regular viewers of our on-going series of webinars. So COVID-19 perhaps have helped bring in a worldwide audience that might have missed a smaller regional event.
What will be the biggest impact of the COVID-19 crisis?
The COVID-19 crisis is a major challenge to individuals, families, societies and businesses. We strongly feel for all those who are suffering under the current circumstance or have lost loved ones. However, like every crisis, this is also an opportunity: an opportunity to drive change for the better. At Headwall, we are taking the opportunity to review all our processes to make them more efficient and more effective to even better serve and protect the needs and requirements of our customers as well as our staff.
Overall, we expect that the COVID-19 crisis will significantly increase the rate of adoption of automation and the digitalisation of the manufacturing industry as well as most working environments. We see this as chance to free up time and energy to further focus on innovation and what we as individuals and a society believe in, such as improving the human condition.