How USB is Shaping the Future of Machine Vision

September 25, 2014 at 10:00 AM

 

Here at L-com we are a member of the AIA (Automated Imaging Association) trade group, the world's largest machine vision trade group. As a member we feel that it is our duty to give you some insight on how advances in USB 3.0 technology are affecting the growth of machine vision.

 

First of all-- for those who don’t already know, machine vision is defined as the methods and technology used to provide imaging-based automatic inspection and analysis.

 

Machine vision systems use cameras and image processing software to perform inspections, similar to how human inspectors on assembly lines visually inspect the quality of the products. Examples of applications where this takes place include automatic inspection, process control, and robot guidance in industry.

 

Machine vision inspection plays an important role in achieving 100% quality control in manufacturing. This reduces costs and ensures a high level of customer satisfaction. However, one of the main challenges designers face in machine vision today is market demand for HD imaging and the need for greater bandwidth based on increasing sensor resolution and frame rate.

 

Current systems are forced to compromise between image quality and compression. Higher levels of compression limit the accuracy and performance of machine vision systems.

 

But have no fear; this is where USB 3.0 comes to the rescue.

With USB 3.0, designers now have additional bandwidth at their disposal. USB 3.0 is fast -- with a 5 Gbps data rate, which is a 10x increase over USB 2.0 (480 Mbps). The increased bandwidth substantially reduces the time required for transferring large amounts of data or video.

 

As the EE Times stated it, designers can more readily increase image resolution and frame rate with greater bandwidth while still preserving image quality. Without the need for compression, designers can also reduce the amount of memory required in systems.  This translates to a lower BOM, smaller PCB, and reduced power consumption.

 

L-com offers a large variety of USB cables, and our cables are manufactured per the mechanical requirements of the USB 3.0 Vision standard. In addition to supporting the machine vision camera market, the screw mount hardware required for USB 3.0 Vision cables is beneficial in many other applications where standard USB connectors can become dislodged due to jostling, vibration, or other factors.

 

Have a look at our USB 3.0 selection here!

 

Advantages of Fiber Cabling You May Not Have Considered

September 11, 2014 at 10:00 AM

 

 

First things first, we aren’t claiming that fiber is outright better than copper cabling.

 

We understand that as data and network design requirements vary, some applications may need copper cabling. In these cases, copper is likely the best choice and perfectly suited for that network or application.

 

What we ARE saying is that in other instances there may be advantages to using fiber in your application. 

 

When you consider the many elements that are involved in designing your network- such as cost, dependability, durability, resources, space, etc.- it will be helpful to know more about how using fiber can positively impact your network.

 

As with any technology related implementation, one might also want to consider the environmental impact that the network will have. Fiber has some environmental advantages that we will go over. 

 

So here they are, the facts about why fiber could be beneficial to your application!

1.       It generally requires less power

 

Overall, fiber uses less power to transmit at a longer distance.

 

Look at redundancy, for example. Copper backbones and Intermediate Distribution Frames (IDFs) could be converted to fiber optic direct from a centralized data center all the way to the desktop. When you eliminate the need for IDFs, you eliminate the need for all the extra space, cooling, cabling and power backup they require. This will generally mean less power consumption, especially at longer distances.

 

Copper also has limited run distances, so getting data from point A to point B can be an issue if the connection exceeds 100 meters, whereas fiber provides much further distance support.  

 

If you absolutely need copper, consider that higher quality copper cables result in less re-transmission of data and therefore less power consumption. Also, inexpensive and portable Wireless CPE units can be used remotely to provide a secondary communications link when fiber cannot be installed due to cost or physical barriers.

 

Note that fiber optic media converters can help transition your copper network to fiber optics if you choose a hybrid network design.

 

 

2.       Saves on Resources

 

Why? Fiber is lighter by nature of its composition. Therefore supporting structures can be less robust.

 

Also, since fiber runs all the way to the destination without a repeater for most networks, there is less need for intermediary network closets which saves on floor space and power consumption.  This also saves on HVAC needs too (which provides energy savings).

3.       Efficiency

 

Fiber cabling is as good as it gets for efficiency and security in network applications.  This is because it is free from threat of corrosion and is resistant to atmospheric conditions such as lightning or other electrical interference. Fiber is also resistant to environments where vibration and EMI/RFI interference might be present. And, fiber-optic cables don’t interfere with other devices.

 

Fiber proves its efficiency especially when you look at the use of materials over time for upgrading. Upgrades can be rather difficult with copper wire, though not with fiber because the real capacity of fiber is only partially utilized at today's network speeds. Cable and telephone providers often use fiber because it gives them greater reliability with the opportunity to offer new services, such as digital phone service and internet connections. 

 

With fiber cabling the signal also has a constrained loss rate, which means that very little signal is lost over rather long distances. Lastly, fiber is very hard to tap and steal data from since it transfers data with light.

 

 

4.       Saves on Waste

 

To put it into perspective, one fiber cable can do the work of TEN copper cables. That’s less material being used for manufacturing, thus less material ending up at the landfill.

 

As mentioned above, the reduced need for upgrading fiber networks also saves on waste as you are disposing of fewer cables over time.

  

All points considered, choosing the best connectivity media for your application is a balancing act. Armed with the facts you need about the implications of fiber technology, now you can consider what is most important to you and what best suits the requirements of your network.

 

It’s an IP world with the Internet of Things (IoT)

August 21, 2014 at 10:00 AM

 

 

In today’s age of such accelerated technology advancements, we practically have the world at our fingertips.

 

Emergency services respond at the push of a button, robots work for us in factories, apps on our phones connect us with others across the world…

 

And it’s about to get even easier.

 

As 2014 marches on, the buzz around the term “Internet of things” or “IoT” is ever increasing due to the fact that its impact on our society has the potential to be dramatic within a relatively short span of time.

 

By now most of you may have already heard of this phenomenon, but just what does this term really mean? And what are the implications to our wired and wireless engineering world?

 

 

An Ecosystem of Sorts

 

IoT is the idea that just about every imaginable device that can provide either a control or monitoring function will someday have an IP address for access to the Internet. CISCO Systems, Inc. calls it the “Internet of Everything,” or the networked connection of people, processes, data, and things.

 

Imagine objects in your home, car, at work, and all around you having an IP address to connect to the cloud—providing immediate access via just about any device (Smart Phone, tablet, laptop, desktop computer, etc.).

 

And IoT is not just limited to devices; it’s encroaching upon use with people and animals too! Livestock monitoring and tracking, medical devices for monitoring, and preventative medicine on humans are just some examples. The concept is to have multiple vertical sectors operating in one connected ecosystem.

 

A few other examples of startup “things” that are popping up around the IoT world include: an all-in-one touch screen WiFi router and smart home hub, WiFi enabled smart outlets and plugs that allow you to adjust settings via smart phone, sensor enhanced trash bins, and a bracelet that measures sun exposure.

 

According to Business Insider Intelligence, the IoT will account for 9 billion connections by 2018. In addition, BI Intelligence estimates that the IoT alone will surpass the PC, Tablet, and phone market combined by 2017.

 

So what are the ramifications?

 

IoT has the power to influence energy savings, cost savings, remote control and monitoring for business and home applications, and more. By using smarter and more efficient tracking, analysis, and monitoring some businesses will have an opportunity for cost savings (such as an insurance company saving money with collision avoidance navigation systems).

 

 

What about Our Business?

 

Lucky for us engineering minded folks, IoT applications will require both wired and wireless networking infrastructures to operate.

 

Every device- such as a pressure sensor, temperature sensor, or flow control valve- will have an IP address that is connected to the internet or to an Ethernet network. Thus, any necessary equipment for Ethernet IP networks will be required.

 

According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, the most lucrative benefactors of this new movement will be the companies making chips that power these devices and those who are building the systems that will connect the chips (rather than the companies making the actual appliances).

 

Our products such as Ethernet switches and converters, WiFi antennas and RF amplifiers are some examples of the products needed to support IoT applications.  As a designer and manufacturer of wired and wireless networking products we are excited to see where this IoT evolution will take us!

 

Keeping up with Trending Technologies at the Del Mar Electronics Show

April 24, 2014 at 10:00 AM

 

In order to keep up with the latest trends in connectivity and technology we often place ourselves at trade shows, small and large. We want to not only provide stellar products but also grasp every opportunity to learn about the latest technologies in our engineering world.

 

So next week we’ll be exhibiting at the Del Mar Electronics and Design Show (DMEDS) on April 30th and May 1st. The show takes place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego, California. L-com will be at Booth 747 displaying our latest wired and wireless connectivity products.

 

DMEDS is a low cost, high value design and manufacturing show for the electronics, medical and biotech industries. DMEDS focuses on IC products and services, electronic components, instrumentation equipment, fabrication products and services, engineering software and services, manufacturing products and services, contract manufacturing services and much more.

 

In addition to innovative new products, DMEDS also offers free industry programs and high tech presentations by leading edge companies.

 

Here are a few seminars that caught our eye:

·         American Manufacturing Trends: ‘Reshoring,’ Nearsourcing, and Technical Training 

·         3D Printing – Overview of Available Technologies & Commercial Applications

·         Social Media and the Supply Chain

 

This year it's expected that about 440 exhibitors and over 4,000 industry professionals will be in attendance. That’s a big opportunity for networking. Here’s a list of some companies that attended last year-- take a look to see if you should join in!

 

http://www.mfgshow.com

 

 

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