IDS Imaginghas released its new contrast-based autofocus features in the popular LE board level cameras. These additions take advantage of standard liquid lenses from Varioptic with resolutions up to 18 megapixels. The uEye software now comes with an intuitive GUI with adjustable regions of interest and various image sharpness measurement algorithms.
As much as “Auto focus” seems like it would be the flip of a switch, its important to understand the various methods used in the image analysis. In order to focus an image, algorithms are needed to measure image sharpness which is relayed to the liquid lens to make adjustments. These methods as based on principles in measuring edge sharpness to analyzing histogram values of the pixel grey scales.
Measuring image sharpness additionally has various algorithms which which can be run providing more exact methods versus basic analysis. It is important to understand these methods as additional processing power is required, effecting the overall camera frame rate.
IDS Imaging has a “Tech Tip”which covers various auto focus methods, defines the characteristics of search algorithms and how they effect speed and provides application examples. Click the icon below to download.
Liquid lens technology, with its ability to change focus within the order of milliseconds is opening up a host of new applications in both machine vision and the life sciences. It is gaining growing interest from a wide cross section of applications and easily adapts to standard machine vision lenses.
Liquid lens technology alone provides nice solutions, but when combined with advanced controls, many more applications can be solved.
In this blog, we will highlight several case application areas for liquid lens technology.
Case 1: Applications requiring various focus points and extended depth of field: This does cover many applications, such as logistics, packaging and code reading in packaging. Liquid lenses provide the ability to have pre-set focus points, auto-focus or utilize distance sensors for feedback to the lens. In the example below, 2 presets can be programmed and toggled to read 2D codes at various heights essentially extending the depth of field.
Case 2: 3D imagery of transparent materials / Hyperfocal (Extended DOF Images: When using an Optotune liquid lens in conjunction with a Gardasoft TR-CL180 controller, sequence of images can be taken with the focus point stepped between each image. This technique is known as focus stacking. This will build up a 3D image of transparent environments such as cell tissue or liquid for analysis. This can also be used to find particles suspended in liquids.
A Z-stack of images can also be used to extract 3D data (depth of focus) and compute a hyper-focus or extended depth of field (EFOF) image.
The EDOF technique requires tacking a stack of individual well focused images which have preferably been synchronized with one flash per image. An example is show below with the rendered hyper focus image shown at right.
Case 3: Lens inspection: Liquid lenses can be used to inspect lenses, such as those in cell phones for dust and scratches looking through the lens stack.
Case 5: Large surface inspections with variation in height: Items ranging from PCB’s to LCD’s are not flat, have various component heights and need to be inspected at high magnification (typically using lenses with minimal DOF). Optotune Liquid lenses are a perfect solution using preset focus points.
Machine Vision applications using Optotune Liquid lenses and controller are endless!
These applications are just the tip of the iceberg and many more exist, but this will give you a good idea of capabilities. Gardasoft TR-CL controllers are fully GigE Vision compliant, so any compatible GigE Vision client image processing software such as Cognex VisionPro, Teledyne Dalsa Sherlock or National Instruments LABVIEW can be used easily.