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Machine Vision and Applications

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- Overview

Machine vision is a technology and method used to provide imaging-based automated inspection and analysis for applications such as automated inspection, process control, and robotic guidance, typically used in industry. Machine vision refers to many technologies, software and hardware products, integrated systems, actions, methods and expertise. 

Machine vision as a systems engineering discipline can be thought of as distinct from computer vision, which is a form of computer science. It attempts to integrate existing technologies in new ways and apply them to solve real-world problems. The term is a common term for these functions in the context of industrial automation, but is also used for these functions in vehicle guidance in other environments. 

The entire machine vision process includes planning the requirements and details of the project, and then creating the solution. At runtime, the process begins with imaging, and then automatically analyzes the images and extracts the required information.


- Machine Vision and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Machine vision is a field of AI that uses computers to interpret and understand images. Artificial intelligence is used in machine vision to speed up the decision-making process.

Computer vision is a subset of machine learning. It trains computers to capture and interpret information in images and videos. By applying machine learning models to images, computers can classify objects and respond to them. For example, a smartphone can be unlocked when it recognizes a face.

Traditionally, machine vision refers to the use of computer vision in an industrial or practical application or process where it is necessary to execute a certain function or outcome based on the image analysis done by the vision system. 

The vision system uses software to identify pre-programmed features and is frequently used to trigger a variety of set "actions" based on the findings. One "simple" way to describe it, for the sake of simplicity, is the automatic extraction of information from digital video and image data.

Computer vision is increasingly capable of handling 3D and moving images, including unpredictable observations that earlier iterations of such techniques were unable to handle. Sophisticated operations detect various features in images, analyze them and provide rich information about those images. 

With advances in computer vision, the potential applications of machine vision have multiplied. What was once up to heavy industry to determine simple binary actions is now in the braking systems of self-driving cars, comparing our faces to passport photos at airport security gates, helping robots perform surgery, etc..


- Types of Machine Vision Systems

Machine vision uses cameras, hardware, and software to automate visual inspection tasks. These tasks include: positioning, measuring, counting, defect detection.

There are many types of machine vision systems, including:

  • 2D Vision Systems: These systems are the most common and are suitable for pattern recognition.
  • 3D Vision Systems: These systems use multiple cameras to capture 3D images of objects.
  • Smart camera-based vision systems: These systems can be connected to other automation systems to improve production processes.
  • Line scan cameras: These cameras generate a two-dimensional image one line at a time, similar to a scanner. They are useful for images of large products, cylinders or continuous rolls.
  • Smart Cameras: These cameras create the best images with just one click.


Machine vision systems can be used in both industrial and non-industrial applications. They can provide operational guidance to the device based on image capture and processing.


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- Common Applications of Machine Vision

Machine vision is a technology that allows industrial equipment to “see” and make decisions based on what it sees. Common applications of machine vision include:

  • Read barcodes and RFID tags
  • Check for product defects
  • Absence/presence detection
  • Automated vision test and measurement
  • Color verification
  • Optical character recognition and verification
  • Part verification
  • Pattern matching


Machine vision is one of the many applications of AI in manufacturing. It can be used to minimize the time humans are involved in tasks such as inspection or manufacturing. For example, machine vision barcode scanners are more efficient than manual sorting.

Some other applications of machine vision include:

  • Traffic monitoring
  • 3D model building
  • Cancer detection
  • Plant disease detection


- Machine Vision and Industry 4.0 

Machine vision is a technology that allows industrial equipment to see what it is doing and make decisions based on what it sees. Machine vision is used in Industry 4.0 for product inspection, quality control and data collection.

Industry 4.0 is the fourth industrial revolution that combines traditional manufacturing with automation and data exchange. Industry 4.0 uses advanced technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, machine vision, big data, cloud computing, and mechanical education. These technologies improve factory efficiency, increase production stability, and minimize operations.

Machine vision systems use high-resolution cameras to detect and inspect object details that the human eye might miss. Machine vision eliminates the effects of operator fatigue and individual differences, ensuring consistent and reliable inspections. The most common uses of machine vision are:

  • Visual inspection and defect detection.
  • Locate and measure parts.
  • Identify, classify and track products. 


[More to come ...] 

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