Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a controversial topic in our world right now. With the fear of robots taking over, and things like that. But in our world at the EMP Tech Group, so far AI has been a great thing. Helping us solve customer problems that we could not easily solve in the past.
Artificial Intelligence is a complex subject, and it can be difficult to see how it fits into our daily lives. Other than having your search engine spit out more information, as it uses AI to try to better understand what we are searching for. Having a robot, or a cobot in our work or homes, that has intelligence like a human, is not likely to happen for some time now. (Like jet packs!)
In our work lives here at EMP, AI has mainly shown up in machine vision. And in a positive way for both us, and our customers. The first example is in programming smart cameras for inspection processes. The old way of doing this was to acquire images, and then use several complex tools, such as edge detection, blob counts, pixel counts, pattern recognition, etc. to try to teach the system a good part from a bad part.
Now with AI in the mix, you still acquire images, but instead of using all the tools, you just teach the camera good from bad with examples. Kind of like raising kids! The AI software then gives you feedback on how certain it is about the difference between good and bad. Once you get into the high 90% range, you start using the system in production. When you catch mistakes, you re-teach the system until it is practically flawless.
This means that much of the work we used to do for customers, can now be done by the customers themselves. But that is great news, because it opens up more opportunities for machine vision in the workplace, since the barriers of entry come down drastically.
The second area where AI is helping machine vision is in OCR. This used to be a tricky technology that only worked halfway well, when using a special font that was easily recognizable by the software. The postal industry has been successfully using OCR for decades, but only because they have a known database of all addresses to bounce against for confirmation what the system thinks it read.
We used to advise using barcodes instead of trying OCR, since barcode reading is so reliable. But now with AI powered OCR, the ability to read characters accurately, and quickly is greatly enhanced.
So, if you have a machine vision project and want to see how the latest technology can make it affordable and successful, the EMP Tech Group is the place to go.