In my family’s big trip to Europe, we started in the Czech Republic, and then, at the travel agent’s suggestion, continued on to Italy and France. Germany was briefly on the schedule, but the allure of Paris won out. By the end of the trip, though, we were flagging-my dad and one of my sisters chose to stay in rather than see the Eiffel Tower at night-and I think at least one of us had a fever.

I was able to visit Germany a few times during my year teaching abroad, but it’s a shame the whole family didn’t get a chance to visit the country, because besides having some German roots, it is a great place to travel. The trains are immaculate and on-time, and plenty of people speak English.

This fall, once the madness of Oktoberfest has cleared, Germany will host another event: Vision 2009, the 22nd international trade show for machine vision and identification technologies, to be held in Stuttgart, Germany, November 3 to 5.

If you fly into Stuttgart, airport terminals are approximately 200 meters from the trade show site and can be reached on foot. If needed, however, the show also can be reached by train or bus. Rest assured that Germany has train travel done right, which can help avoid those stressful train station experiences that were a mainstay of our vacation, including a six-person mad dash through an Italian train station to make a connection that we still talk about, years later. Say what you will about air travel, trains can be stressful too.

Along with its efficient public transportation, Germany also is known for industrial production, and the show will provide a chance to hear about the latest machine vision technologies available. And there is no shortage of those, as vision continues to expand.

“There is hardly an industry today that survives without the involvement of machine vision in one way or the other,” show organizers say. Indeed, machine vision has a wide range of supporters-not just those in the industry. EvenThe Economistsays, “It is a technology worth watching closely.”

Look for the new integration area at this year’s show, along with the VW Passat equipped with a laser system and machine vision technology that will demonstrate how autonomous driving works.

When browsing through the Vision at this year’s show offerings, I spotted some campground information in the travel and accommodation section, including the Stuttgart campground Cannstatter Wasen. If you’re interested, more information is available at Just think: a machine vision industry version of Woodstock, 40 years later.

In the meantime, spend some time on something a little more recent-search “machine vision” on YouTube-you’ll find some practical demonstrations, as well as some vision systems that play Guitar Hero. Machine vision seems to have gone mainstream.

If you would like to experience it in person, Germany is the place to be this November. Eighty-nine percent of last year’s visitors would recommend the show and 70% rated it very good or good.

And if you are able to attend Vision, let me know how it went-especially if you camped there.