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  • One Standard to Rule Them All

Photonics Spectra
Nov 2006
Hank Hogan

With the mid-September release of the GenICam programming interface standard, the European Machine Vision Association has stated that cameras equipped with FireWire, GigE Vision and Camera Link will be configurable with a single piece of code. In particular, the association announced, the standard will be the key to achieving interoperability between GigE Vision cameras.

Products implementing new standards often run into issues that must be hammered out. So how compliant to the standard and, therefore, how interoperable are the current crop of GenICam cameras? The answer is that they all should be compliant, but it has yet to be proved.

According to Werner Borchert, vision components product manager at Basler AG in Ahrensburg, Germany, cameras should be compliant because of the test that is included with the standard. “All manufacturers can use this test,” he said. Basler has been, and continues to be, heavily involved in the development of the GenICam standard.

Another company with significant participation, particularly in the GigE Vision area, is digital camera maker Prosilica Inc. of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. CEO Marty Furse noted that his company’s cameras were used by some machine vision software companies to develop GigE Vision drivers.

“Our cameras operate with the only third-party software that has native support for GigE Vision and GenICam,” he explained. “We are as compliant as compliant can be.”

However, vision system integrators tell of slightly more mixed results. Some implementations are said to be less than stellar, although this assessment is based largely on anecdotal evidence. Robert Eastlund, vice president of sales for Graftek Imaging Inc. of Austin, Texas, noted that part of the difficulty in testing claims has been a lack of native software support for GenICam. “Until [recently], I did not have a driver to work with,” he said, speaking of offerings from his favored vendor, National Instruments Corp., also in Austin.

Steve Cruickshank, principal PC vision product marketing manager at Cognex Corp. in Natick, Mass., said that his company’s software would work with third-party tool kits to acquire images. The company plans to add native GenICam support in the first half of 2007.

David Dechow, president of aptúra Machine Vision Solutions of Lansing, Mich., said that he had not worked with GenICam-compliant cameras. He said he hoped that the standard would succeed, although he sees it as a challenge. “The idea that it will migrate to all digital formats … the best word is ‘ambitious.’ It would be great if it does,” he said.

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