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Real-Time Image Processing Market Soars

Photonics Spectra
Nov 1996
Kathleen G. Tatterson

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- The real-time image processing market has been on a roll, thanks to marked improvements in both the performance and price of computer platforms and high-resolution cameras. According to a new study, the greater demand for these systems in mainstream fields such as forensics, agriculture, ophthalmology and endoscopic vision will continue to drive the market.

Flexibility, better accuracy

"The US Real-Time Image Processing Systems Market," published by Frost & Sullivan, put the market at $1.77 billion in 1995. Factors such as equipment flexibility, higher resolutions, increased accuracy and ease of use win the lion's share of credit for driving the demand and making real-time imaging accessible to more users. The total market is expected to exceed $5 billion by the year 2002, as companies expand high-volume production in the wake of technical innovations.

Price is another factor in real-time image processing systems' foray into the mainstream. In 1995, the average price of a unit was $5530, down from $6075 just three years earlier. By 2002, advances in semiconductor technology and more highly integrated computer components should make systems more efficient and economical, bringing the average price down to an estimated $4610, while addressing a broader range of end-user applications.

Computer systems, on which real-time systems are built, dominated the industry with a $592.6 million share of the market and are predicted to bring in nearly $1.5 billion by the year 2002.

Another driving force is input and output devices, which generated a combined $551.2 million in 1995 and are expected to top the $1 billion mark by the turn of the century.

In optics, an image is the reconstruction of light rays from a source or object when light from that source or object is passed through a system of optics and onto an image forming plane. Light rays passing through an optical system tend to either converge (real image) or diverge (virtual image) to a plane (also called the image plane) in which a visual reproduction of the object is formed. This reconstructed pictorial representation of the object is called an image.
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