What does XSWIR (eXtended SWIR sensitivity) do for me?

Visible imaging, infrared imaging (IR), short wave IR (SWIR), Extended SWIR (XSWIR) – it’s an alphabet soup of acronyms and their correlating concepts. Let’s briefly review each type of imaging to set the stage for the new kid in town – XSWIR – to better understand what each has to offer.

Visible imaging is the shorthand name for machine vision applications that are in the same portion of the spectral range as human vision, from about 380 – 700 nm. The field of machine vision initially developed largely in the visible space, partly because it’s easiest to conceptualize innovation in a familar space, but also due to the happy coincidence that CCD and CMOS sensors are photosensitive in the same portion of the spectrum as human sight!

Infrared imaging (IR), including near-infrared (NIR), focus on wavelengths in the range above 700 nm. NIR is roughly from 750 nm – 1400 nm. Applications include spectroscopy, hardwood and wood pulp analysis, biomedicine, and more.

Short-wave IR (SWIR) applications have tended to fall in the range 950 nm – 1700 nm. Applications include quality-control of electronics boards, plastic bottle-contents inspection, fruit inspection, and more. The camera sensor is typically based not on Silicon (Si) but rather Indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) , and one typically requires special lensing.

Then there is MWIR (3 – 5 um) and LWIR (9 – 15 um). You can guess what M and L stand for by now. MWIR and LWIR are interesting in their own right, but beyond the scope of this short piece.

We draw your attention to a newish development in SWIR, namely Extended SWIR, or simply XSWIR. Some use the term eSWIR instead – it’s all so new there isn’t a dominant acronym yet as we write this – we’ll persist with XSWIR for purposes of this piece. XSWIR pushes the upper limits of SWIR beyond what earlier SWIR technologies could realize.

As mentioned above, SWIR cameras, lenses, and the systems built on such components tended to concentrate on applications with wavelengths in the range 950 – 1700 nm. XSWIR technologies can now push the right end of the response curve to 1900 nm and even 2200 nm.

Big deal, a few hundred more nanometers of responsivity, who cares? Those doing any of the following may care a lot:

  • Spectral imaging
  • Laser beam profiling
  • Life science research
  • Surveillance
  • Art inspection

A camera taking XSWIR to 1900 nm responsivity is Allied Vision Technologies’ Goldeye G-034 XSWIR 1.9. AVT’s sister camera the Goldeye G-034 XSWIR 2.2 achieves even more responsivity up to 2200 nm.

Allied Vision Goldeye XSWIR camera with lens

The Goldeye family was already known for robust design and ease of use, making SWIR accessible. Of particular note in the new Goldeye XSWIR 1.9 and 2.2 models are:

  • Extended SWIR wavelength detection beyond 1,700 nm
  • Multi-ROI selection to speed up processes, especially useful in spectrometer-based sorting and recycling applications
  • Industrial grade solution for an attractive price

Tell us about your intended application – we love to guide customers to the optimal solution.

1st Vision’s sales engineers have over 100 years of combined experience to assist in your camera and components selection.  With a large portfolio of lensescablesNIC card and industrial computers, we can provide a full vision solution!

Components needed for machine vision and industrial imaging systems

Machine vision and industrial imaging systems are used in various applications ranging from automated quality control inspection, bottle filling, robot pick-and-place applications, autonomous drone or vehicle guidance, patient monitoring, agricultural irrigation controls, medical testing, metrology, and countless more applications.

Imaging systems typically include a least a camera and lens, and often also include one or more of specialized lighting, adapter cards, cables, software, optical filters, power supply, mount, or enclosure.

At 1stVision we’ve created a resource page is intended to make sure that nothing in a planned imaging application has been missed.  There are many aspects on which 1stVision can provide guidance.   The main components to consider are indicated below.

Diverse cameras

Cameras: There are area scan cameras for visible, infrared, and ultraviolet light, used for static or motion situations.  There are line scan cameras, often used for high-speed continuous web inspection.  Thermal imaging detects or measures heat.  SWIR cameras can identify the presence or even the characteristics of liquids.  The “best” camera depends on the part of the spectrum being sensed, together with considerations around motion, lighting, surface characteristics, etc.

An assortment of lens types and manufacturers

Lens: The lens focuses the light onto the sensor, mapping the targeted Field of View (FoV) from the real world onto the array of pixels.  One must consider image format to pair a suitable lens to the camera.  Lenses vary by the quality of their light-passing ability, how close to the target they can be – or how far from it, their weight (if on a robot arm it matters), vibration resistance,  etc.  See our resources on how to choose a machine vision lens.  Speak with us if you’d like assistance, or use the lens selector to browse for yourself.

Lighting: While ambient light is sufficient for some applications, specialized lighting may also be needed, to achieve sufficient contrast.  And it may not just be “white” light – Ultra-Violet (UV) or Infra-Red (IR) light, or other parts of the spectrum, sometimes work best to create contrast for a given application – or even to induce phosphorescence or scatter or some other helpful effect.  Additional lighting components may include strobe controllers or constant current drivers to provide adequate and consistent illumination. See also Lighting Techniques for Machine Vision.

Optical filter: There are many types of filters that can enhance application performance, or that are critical for success.  For example a “pass” filter only lets certain parts of the spectrum through, while a “block” filter excludes certain wavelengths.  Polarizing filters reduce glare.  And there are many more – for a conceptual overview see our blog on how machine filters create or enhance contrast

Don’t forget about interface adapters like frame grabbers and host adapters; cables; power supplies; tripod mounts; software; and enclosures. See the resource page to review all components one might need for an industrial imaging system, to be sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

1st Vision’s sales engineers have over 100 years of combined experience to assist in your camera and components selection.  With a large portfolio of lensescablesNIC card and industrial computers, we can provide a full vision solution!

Lucid Helios2+ Time of Flight 3D cameras

The Lucid Vision Labs Helios2+ Time of Flight (ToF) 3D camera features High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode, and High-Speed Time-of-Flight mode, and a Sony DepthSense™ IMX556PLR 1/2″ global shutter CMOS back-illuminated ToF sensor.

Lucid Helios2+ Time of Flight 3D cameras

Do I need a Time of Flight (ToF) 3D camera? It depends. If you can achieve the desired outcome in 2D, by all means stay in 2D since the geometry is simpler as are the camera, lensing, lighting, and software requirements. But as discussed in “Types of 3D imaging systems – and benefits of Time of Flight (TOF)”, some applications can only be solved, or innovative offerings created, by working in a three dimensional space.

Robots doing pick-and-place, aerial drones, and patient monitoring are three examples, just to name diverse applications, that may require 3D ToF imaging. Some 3D systems use structured light or passive stereo approaches to build a 3D representation of the object space – but those approaches are often constrained to short working distances. ToF can be ideal for applications operating at working distances of 0.5m – 5m and beyond, with depth resolution requirements to 1 – 5mm.

Lucid Vision Labs has been a recognized leader in 3D ToF systems some time, and we are proud to represent their Helios2 and new Helios2+ cameras, the latter with high speed modes achieve frame rates of 100fps+.

Besides the high speed mode in the video above, another feature is High Dynamic Range mode, combining multiple exposures to provide accurate 3D depth information for high contrast, complex objects containing both highly reflective and low reflectivity objects. Sensing and depth measurement applications to sub-mm (< 1mm) precision. Click here to see examples and further details.

1st Vision’s sales engineers have over 100 years of combined experience to assist in your camera selection.  With a large portfolio of lensescablesNIC card and industrial computers, we can provide a full vision solution!

Sony Pregius 4th generation continues image sensor excellence

Continuing the tradition of excellence begun in 2013, Sony’s 4th generation of Pregius sensors, designated Pregius S, is now available in a range of cameras. All Pregius sensors, starting with the “IMX” code preceding the sensor model number, provide global shutter pixel technology for active pixel CMOS image sensors that adopts Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation’s low-noise structure to realize high-quality images.

Pregius S brings a back-illuminated structure, enabling smaller sensor size as well as faster frame rates. The faster frame rates speak for themselves, but it’s worth noting that the smaller sensor size has the benefit of permitting smaller lenses, which can reduce overall costs.

Figure 1. Surface-illuminated vs. Back-illuminated image sensors

Let’s highlight some of the benefits offered by Pregius S image sensors:

  • With the photodiode placed closer to the micro-lens, a wider incident angle is created, admitting more light, leading to enhanced sensitivity. At low incident angles, the Pregius S captures up to 4x as much light as Sony’s own highly-praised 2nd generation Pregius sensors from just a few years ago! (See Fig. 1 above)
  • Light collection is further enhanced by positioning wiring and circuits below the photodiode
  • Smaller 2.74um pixels provides higher resolution in typical smaller cube cameras, continuing the evolution of ever more capacity and performance while occupying less space

While Pregius S sensors are very compelling, the prior generation Pregius sensors remain an excellent choice for many applications. As with many engineering choices, it comes down to performance requirements as well as cost considerations, to achieve the optimal solution for any given application. Many of the Pregius S image sensors can be found in industrial cameras offered by 1stVision.  Use our “Sensor” pull down menu on our camera selector to look for the new sensors, starting with IMX5 e.g. IMX541. 

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1st Vision’s sales engineers have over 100 years of combined experience to assist in your camera selection.  With a large portfolio of lensescablesNIC card and industrial computers, we can provide a full vision solution!

Graphics courtesy of Sony.