Vision & Sensors

From the Editor: Summer in the Cities

June 29, 2010
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How do you get around? Do you take public transportation? What other transportation options are available where you live?

I just returned from my first trip to Asia, visiting Vietnam and Korea, and attending a cousin’s wedding in Colorado on the way home.

The trip provided interesting contrasts, from the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Hanoi and Seoul to the quiet mountain town of Buena Vista, CO.

We started the trip on the Con Dao Islands, where motorbikes are the main mode of transportation. These were extremely fun to ride, though let me be the first to warn you-those hand brakes are harder to use than you’d think.

Then traveling through Vietnam’s big cities, taxis were an easy and very affordable way to get around in the absence of a subway system, though a Ho Chi Minh City light rail rapid transit network is in the works.

In Korea, motorbikes were mainly used for deliveries (even McDonald’s delivers) so we used the subway. The Seoul subway system was sparkling and popular. For those who don’t read Korean, signs and announcements also are made in English, so for such a complicated subway system, it was surprisingly easy to navigate.

Back in the states, it was back to driving. I rented a car to get to Buena Vista, and enjoyed the scenic drive through the mountains with the grand, sweeping views.

Obviously our world has no shortage of transportation options, including cars, planes, trains, motorbikes, boats and bicycles.

No matter how you get around, vision systems may be behind many of these transportation components. Vision systems help inspect and produce many different components, including those used in automotive.

Transportation is a hot topic these days, as energy usage is debated. Cost always factors into these discussions, so machine vision can be an important consideration. Ensuring quality, lowering the cost of producing vehicles and providing innovative new technologies can all be done with machine vision technology.

To that end, did your summer traveling include the Automated Imaging Association’s Vision Show, which returned to Boston May 25 to 27?

If so, you weren’t alone. This year’s show had double the attendees of last year’s, according to AIA, and included vision and imaging technologies from 82 companies, such as cameras, optics, lighting, software, components and complete vision systems. Nearly 1,900 people registered from 19 countries to see what was new in the vision world. (Or perhaps they just wanted an excuse to attend the Hard Rock Café party with band Ernie and the Automatics.)

The next big vision show is Vision 2010 to be held in Stuttgart, Germany, November 4 to 6. Will Germany be more popular than Boston? We shall see. Germany is known for its engineering and efficient transportation networks, and I’m sure visitors will get a chance to see both of these in action. (I haven’t heard anything about show entertainment, but maybe Ernie and the Automatics will be willing to make another appearance.)

And it may be time to look into those flights now. While boats are still used for transport, it may be difficult to get the accounting department to approve a cruise to Europe.

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