Although different 3D cameras and scanners have existed for some time, present solutions have been limited by several unwanted compromises. If you wanted high speed, you would get very low resolution and accuracy (e.g. Time-of-Flight cameras and existing stereo vision cameras, which despite being fast typically have resolution in the millimeter to centimeter range). If you wanted high resolution and accuracy, you would typically get a camera that was slow and expensive (e.g. the high accuracy scanners).
Additionally, most 3D cameras and high accuracy scanners only had depth data with no color information. This changed with the first generation of Microsoft Kinect, a real-time 3D RGBD camera which, despite being made for Xbox and gaming with no industrial packaging, was adopted by robot researchers in masses around the world. Although creating significant attention in robotic vision research, the Kinect did not provide the data quality and robustness needed for broad usage in industrial automation. It was just not accurate enough to be used in many industrial applications, such as e.g. inline inspection of 3D shape in production lines, or in robot guidance or machine vision applications requiring sub-millimeter accuracy. Inspired by the Microsoft Kinect and the likes, Zivid Labs has introduced a new kind of 3D color camera without the common compromises. Several innovations set the Zivid camera apart and define the scope of applicability. Providing high quality 3D snapshots in full HD and color at rapid rates (100ms per image, including both acquisition and 3D processing time), while at the same time delivering true to reality depth resolution at 100µm. That is like the width of a human hair and about 50 to 100 times more accurate than other high-speed 3D color cameras in the market. The availability of both 3D and full color (RGBD) data makes it much easier to locate and characterize features in an automation operation. Whether it’s a PCB (with components in different colors), a multitude of consumer products in a ware-house rack, a multi-color plastic material or a food product (e.g., for inspection or processing of fruit, fish or meat, where color makes it easier to distinguish e.g. between fat, blood and connective tissue). Data quality lies at the core of any successful automation operation, and is extremely important to make systems robust, reliable and flexible towards rapidly changing production or logistics operations with a broad variety of products and parts. In machine vision objects such as black and absorbing (e.g. carbon or dark rubber), partly shiny or reflective objects (e.g. semi polished metal or plastic wrapped items) or partly translucent materials (e.g. fish or meat) has always been a challenge. To address this, the 3D camera comes with several flexible High Dynamic Range (HDR) modes in addition to a smart and adaptive projection technology and noise filtering, which has been shown to make a big difference.
Some possible application areas include robust detection and pick&place of randomly organized objects, challenging depalletizing tasks, order picking and preparation in a logistic warehouse, demanding kitting and assembly operations, automated positioning in jig-less setups or high accuracy guiding and control. Additionally, by taking precise 3D images of components and revealing small defects or anomalies (either in shape or color), it allows for fast inspection and quality control. By being so fast, it can be integrated into the production line and inspect 100 percent of the production. It’s also suited for lightning fast 3D digitization of objects, e.g. for 3D printing, 3D visualization and a broad set of other industrial automation applications. The real-time 3D color camera is now available for purchase to an affordable price and with low lead time. The feedback from those who have the camera running in industrial setups, has been very positive.
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