Electronic Design

Success Story: Cognex Milestones

1981: Company founded by Dr. Robert J. Shillman, along with Bill Silver and Marilyn Matz.


Its first optical character recognition system—a machine-vision system that could read numbers, letters, and symbols printed, etched, stamped, or embossed directly on product surfaces. The OCR system was sold directly to "end-users" on the factory floor in applications ranging from identifying cardboard cartons to silicon wafers.


The first normalized correlation pattern finder, called Search, and Cognex 2000, the first machine-vision system to be built on a single pc board.


The first custom vision chip, known as VC-1, quadrupled the processing power of the company’s machine-vision systems without increasing their size. VC-1 provided this processing power by implementing algorithms used to solve alignment, inspection, and optical-character-recognition applications.


The first full-capability machine-vision system for VME bus computers called the Cognex 4000.


Cognex 5000, the first advanced vision system for PC/AT-bus PCs. Previously, customers who needed a PC plug-in vision system had to purchase multiple circuit boards, usually from different vendors, and spend months developing their own machine-vision software. Cognex 5000 let these customers simply plug the board into their PCs and run the company’s library of vision software tools.


Checkpoint, an easy-to-use machine-vision system that brought the technology to end users on the factory floor. It enabled an engineer without extensive computer programming or machine-vision experience to install a vision system on the production line.


PatMax, object-location software that accurately locates objects when they vary in size or orientation, when their appearance is degraded, or even when they’re partially hidden from view. Also introduced Cognex 8000 Series framegrabbers that operate at up to 10 times faster than their predecessors. The 8000 Series plug directly into the PCI bus on standard Pentium MMX computers, thus optimizing the vision software running on these systems for high-speed image analysis.


The CVC-1000, a progressive-scan video camera developed specifically for industrial machine-vision applications. It’s the first camera for industrial machine-vision applications to combine high-speed image acquisition, enhanced image quality, compact size, and flexible control options. Previously, these features were available only in larger, more expensive cameras.


In-Sight machine-vision sensor, a low-cost industrial vision sensor that provides vision technology in a standalone package without requiring programming or a PC. In-Sight was the debut of a radically new type of user interface for the machine-vision industry. End users can take advantage of In-Sight’s toolkit, based upon a spreadsheet, to install a machine-vision system regardless of their engineering background.


VisionPro, an ActiveX-based software-development environment that dramatically speeds the creation of advanced vision applications. VisionPro provides a drag-and-drop graphical interface for prototyping vision applications using ActiveX controls. Once configured, these controls are easily converted into Visual Basic, where they can be used directly in a deployable application. Customized solutions can also be developed with Visual Basic or C++. VisionPro’s COM/ActiveX software architecture enables third-party components for process control, I/O, and machine control to be easily added to the vision application.


PatFlex, the newest member of the PatMax family of geometric pattern finding technologies. PatFlex is a patent-pending software tool that allows a vision system to locate an object, feature, or pattern whose perspective has changed or whose surface is curved, warped, wrinkled, or stretched. By finding and then correcting for these types of distortions, PatFlex enables the full range of Cognex vision tools to be applied and addresses a variety of applications that were previously impossible, or required complex multistep vision operations.

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