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What is Machine Vision?

What is Machine Vision?

Machine vision is a field of computer science that provides tools and methods for extracting information from an image for automated analysis. It includes computer-based hardware, software, and technologies. These digital systems can obtain information from visual data, such as images and videos, which can then be processed and analyzed through specific software algorithms.

Machine vision is often developed alongside artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning, machine learning, mathematics, and optics to enhance visual data recognition and processing. Because of its benefits, machine vision is used in a wide range of industries for applications such as automatic inspection and process control, including electronic component analysis, pattern recognition, materials inspection, object tracking, surface inspection and many others [1]. This blog post will provide an overview of machine vision and its primary applications.

How Machine Vision Works

Many components are required for machine vision to be successful, some of which include image acquisition hardware, image processing software, and decision-making algorithms. In this section, we look at how these components come together.

An image acquisition system requires a light source, camera lens, sensor, processor, and communication system to effectively capture visual data and process it to extract the desired information. Area scan and line scan cameras are the two most commonly available machine vision cameras. An area scan camera takes pictures in a single frame using an area sensor.

The sensor of a line scan camera is a single sensitive line of pixels. The image of line scan cameras is the brightness profile along this sensor line. Line scan cameras can be used for applications that are classified as one-dimensional or two-dimensional. For one-dimensional applications, a measurement is taken from the pixel information on an individual line scan. For two-dimensional applications, measurements are obtained by moving either the object or the line sensor to create a 2D image.

A line scan camera can effectively produce an image of meters of length, whereas the images produced by an area scan camera would need to be stitched together eventually. When imaging an object of significant length, like items on a conveyor belt, this can reduce errors and accelerate processes due to the reduction in computing time.


Machine vision is used in numerous industries, such as agriculture, automotive, healthcare, manufacturing, robotics, and surveillance. Some of the key applications of these systems include defect detection, inspection, quality control, and taking measurements. They are commonly used in automation and production lines to reduce the need for human intervention in various processes and improve the accuracy of measurements.

A few specific applications of machine vision include:

  • Determining the width of an indentation in a component
  • Measuring the diameter of holes in a component
  • Measuring the distances between the holes
  • Surface quality and dimensions analysis
  • Distortion-free surface inspection of rotational parts
As machine vision systems are typically developed for a specific application, this offers numerous benefits, such as increased accuracy, efficiency, and safety of both products and processes. As a result, it reduces money and time spent on specific operations, offering multiple benefits to company owners.

Schäfter + Kirchhoff and Machine Vision

Schäfter+Kirchhoff develops line scan cameras and lasers for machine vision configured to suit your specific application. Our lasers can be chosen based on required geometry, series, or wavelengths, and our line scan cameras are available with different interfaces (USB3.0, GigE, GigEVision or CameraLink) and sensor features. Machine vision lasers are e.g. used for  laser triangulation or laser light sectioning.

Our line sensors also form the basis of highly specialized scanner systems and sensor heads, such as high-resolution scanners or the robot-guided line scan camera. When combined with specially developed software, they become a complete measurement system, such as the Corrosion Inspector for automated evaluation of corrosion phenomena. We also offer accessories and software for line scan cameras, so whatever your machine vision application, we have a suitable option for you. Contact a member of Schäfter+Kirchhoff today for more information.