Software is a fundamental component of machine vision systems. Typically, the software can refer to:
- Functional components that execute the business process (e.g., algorithms)
- Graphical User Interface (GUI) or User Interface (UI) that is used to interact with the machine vision system by the operators
The user interface is used for various functions –
- Configure settings
- Set up variables
- Generate reports
- Interact with hardware components
For example, in the inspection system for gas cylinders, the user interface has features to get current data, get historical data, configure the inspection process, etc.
Selection of a User Interface in Machine Vision Technology
The user interface is a critical component in the performance of a machine vision system. While selecting the most suitable machine vision application for your business, you should not only consider hardware components, image processing and analysis capabilities, accuracy, speed but also how well the interface is built. If the interface is clunky or not user-intuitive, performance can get affected. Here are some factors that you should identify to ensure the exact requirements of the user interface such that it boosts the performance of the system –
- Integration with the hardware components – The user interface should easily integrate with hardware like a camera.
- Reporting format – The user interface should be able to satisfy the reporting use cases of the business. Reporting requirements can range from daily reports, weekly reports to monthly and yearly reports. There can be business requirements for image-based reports and inspection statistics. The end-users may want reports based on successful classification and unsuccessful classification of data. The client may need reports can be required in different formats.
- Visibility – The user interface depends on the number of elements on the UI, high-level visibility of data, and the extent of drill-down of data.
Impact on hardware – UI requirements related to image quality, data storage, and extraction of data impact hardware needs. Our clients usually have storage and archival needs of one to three months. So there has to be a balance between hardware and software so that performance is not affected and the system fulfills the cost criteria.
Features of a Good User Interface in Machine Vision Technology
How does one differentiate between an effective GUI and an ineffective GUI? Let us look at the features of a model user interface –
- Ease of Use – The user interface should be easy to use. The various UI elements have to be consistent and clear. The navigation is an important aspect too. Users should be able to navigate across functions with ease in a logical manner.
- Configure-ability – Depending on the complexity of the inspection process, the UI might have various configure-ability options. It is important that the configuration process, settings, and parameters are clearly visible and are easy to set up.
- A Balance between simplicity and complexity – The UI should bring a balance between simplicity in use and at the same time allow users to perform complex functions as required by the business process. A simple UI that does not accommodate all features is not very useful. It will not achieve the business objectives. On the other hand, if a UI caters to all functions but requires the users to perform complex operations, it might defeat the purpose. The UI has to take into account the experience and expertise of the end-users.
- Familiarity of Use – Users will have a short learning curve with a familiar interface. For example, the UI can incorporate actions, UI elements, and navigation structure that is consistent with what the users are familiar with in their work environment. They will be encouraged to work on the UI and get productive quickly.
In machine vision systems, every tool is tuned for a specific inspection process. This is accomplished through the use of various tool parameters that control the execution of the tool algorithm. The degree to which the tool parameters can be adjusted depends on the capability and flexibility of the machine vision software package. Therefore, select a machine vision system based on project demands, your use cases, and the extent of inspection required. You have to then ensure that the user interface is programmed such that it manages the access, tuning, input, and output such that the overall inspection process is efficient and effective.