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Camera captures 3D snapshots without an object having to move

14 July, 2017

The German sensor specialist Sick has announced an industrial camera that captures high-resolution 3D images of stationary or moving objects with a single “snapshot”. Unlike systems based on laser triangulation, the Visionary-T camera captures 3D images using a single shot of light, without needing to profile a moving object.

The IP67-protected camera is designed for continuous use in tough industrial conditions, and can capture images of moving or stationary objects over distances of up to 7 metres. It is said to offer an affordable alternative to high-end 3D vision systems, allowing users to integrate 3D imaging into applications such as intrusion detection, quality checking, gesture recognition and obstacle detection for robots or automated vehicles.

“The Visionary T builds up a detailed and accurate real-time 3D image of fixed or moving objects with excellent results, regardless of the angle, surface finish, material or shape of object,” explains Neil Sandhu, Sick’s UK product manager for imaging, measurement, ranging and systems. “The snapshot technology means it is not necessary to design a system in which either the camera or the object must move across a laser line to create a triangulated image.

“In a single shot, the Visionary-T combines different aspects of the light scattered by the object to build up a detailed picture of shape, distance, reflectivity and object depth,” he continues. “Our trials have shown that the single-shot method performs well, with less false imaging than can occur with some of the other commonly used methods, and leads to far more reliable results over a wide range of conditions.”

Sick's Visionary-T cameras can capture detailed 3D images of stationary or moving objects

The camera measures the time-of-flight of a light signal between it and the target for each point of the image. A CCD/CMOS imager produces a pixel matrix, with each pixel containing depth and intensity information. The camera captures more than 25,000 distance and intensity values to create real-time 3D images at up to 30 frames per second.

There are two versions of the camera. One, called the Visionary-T CX, delivers raw depth, intensity and confidence data, without any post-processing or reduction, for in-house processing and program formulation. The other, called the Visionary-T AG, outputs filtered data in formats chosen by the user. It is aimed mainly at robot-related tasks and can handle functions such as axis manipulation, parameter configuration, polar, scalable height integration time, and different filter types.

The camera has an API connector for easy communication of the 3D data to external computers. The data can be read or recorded either directly via Sick’s Sopas interface or via API for Matlab, Java or C++. The camera is compatible with Sick’s IDpro platform for integration with other vision and sensor devices.

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