NI Rolls Out Smart Cameras for Machine Vision, Industrial Inspection

National Instruments (Nasdaq:NATI) announced the NI 1722 and NI 1742 Smart Cameras to provide engineers and scientists with high-performance systems at a low cost. The NI Smart Cameras are embedded devices that combine an industrial controller with an image sensor and integrate with NI vision software to offer image processing directly on the cameras, making them ideal for applications such as locating parts, inspecting packaging, verifying assembly and reading 1-D and 2-D codes.

The new cameras are shipped with National Instruments Vision Builder for Automated Inspection (AI), an interactive software environment for configuring, benchmarking and deploying machine vision applications without programming. With this intuitive, menu-driven software, engineers can build complex machine vision applications incorporating not only vision algorithms but also state-based execution with looping and branching using the built-in state diagram editor. For more advanced applications, NI Smart Cameras also integrate with National Instruments LabVIEW software and the full NI library of image processing and machine vision algorithms such as edge detection, pattern matching, 1-D and 2-D code reading and optical character recognition. Machine vision applications can migrate between platforms with few modifications because LabVIEW and Vision Builder AI support this entire range of hardware.

“The NI Smart Camera represents a significant step forward for the vision industry by achieving high performance at a low cost while expanding the NI vision hardware platform beyond PC-based systems and compact vision systems to the sensor itself,” said John Hanks, NI vice president of industrial product marketing. “From inspecting silicon wafers to packaging food products, NI Smart Cameras provide machine builders and process engineers with easy-to-use, all-in-one inspection solutions that deliver the capabilities of a full-featured vision system.”

Built for use in harsh industrial environments, the NI 1722 features a 400 MHz PowerPC processor and the NI 1742 features a 533 MHz processor. The monochrome VGA (640 x 480) image sensor used in both cameras is a high-quality Sony charge-coupled device. The cameras also provide built-in industrial I/O, including two opto-isolated digital inputs and two opto-isolated digital outputs, one RS232 serial port and two gigabit Ethernet ports with support for industrial protocols, including Modbus TCP.

In addition, the NI 1742 includes quadrature encoder support and a built-in controller featuring NI direct drive lighting technology. With quadrature encoder support, engineers can easily synchronize inspections with linear and rotary drive systems. The NI direct drive controller features a built-in LED lighting drive that provides up to 500 mA constant current and up to 1 A strobed current. Strobe lighting offers increased lighting intensity by up to four times without harming the light head.

About National Instruments
National Instruments is transforming the way engineers and scientists design, prototype and deploy systems for measurement, automation and embedded applications. NI empowers customers with off-the-shelf software such as NI LabVIEW and modular cost-effective hardware and sells to a broad base of more than 25,000 different companies worldwide, with no one customer representing more than 3 percent of revenue and no one industry representing more than 10 percent of revenue. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 4,300 employees and direct operations in nearly 40 countries. For the past eight years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.

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