What’s the difference between machine vision and computer vision?

Computer vision and machine vision are overlapping technologies. A machine vision system requires a computer and specific software to operate while computer vision doesn’t need to be integrated with a machine. Computer vision can, for example, analyze digital online images or videos as well as “images” from motion detectors, infrared sensors or other sources, not just a photo or video. Machine vision is a sub-category of computer vision.

How is machine vision used in business?

In addition to using machine vision for quality control purposes, it is helping businesses in many ways today for identification, inspection, guidance and more. Here are a few examples:

  • Correcting production line defects: In addition to using machine vision to identify defective products, machine vision can help determine where the problems are being introduced in a production line so corrective action can be taken.
  • Farming: Machine vision is used by harvesting machines to detect the location of grapes on the vine so that robotic harvesting machines can pick the bunches without destroying any grapes. Machine vision is also used as part of farm machinery to monitor crops and detect diseases on plants.
  • Inventory control and management: Machine vision is imperative in the process of reading barcodes and labels on components and products. This has important applications for inventory control, but also in the manufacturing process to ensure the correct components get added as products move down an assembly line. Machine vision is critical for the bin-picking done in warehouses by robots.
  • Product tracking and traceability: In heavily regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, it’s important to be able to track ingredients, product serial numbers and monitor expiration dates which machine vision makes extraordinarily easier.
  • Measurements and calibration: Whether measuring the gap in a spark plug to ensure it fits specifications or identifying a gauge that needs calibrated, machine vision automates and makes the process quite efficient.
  • Safety: Whether on a construction site with heavy equipment or tracking food supplies, machine vision can improve safety with great efficiency.

As the technology continues to get more sophisticated, the use cases for machine vision will continue to grow.

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