Liquid lenses for fast focusing in machine vision

The iToBoS project is usually categorized within the field of medical imaging. However, all the technical solutions used or to be developed in the project, from the optics to the artificial intelligence algorithms, are part of the wider field of machine vision.

Apart from medical imaging, this field includes a wide range of applications such as logistics, quality control, and product sorting which, in recent years, are evolving from tasks completed by human operators to completely automated processes. The machines developed for these tasks use optical sensors to image their targets. Computers subsequently process the acquired images and feed them into sophisticated decision algorithms.

One of the big challenges in machine vision is that the imaging systems often need to combine a large field of view with a high resolution to identify small features on large objects at high speed. Conventional fixed-focus optical systems have a limited depth of field and therefore need to be adjusted or replaced when working distance changes. A solution is to use multiple static imaging systems with different focal lengths which add complexity and drive cost. Optotune has the right technology to address the focal depth issue: the focus-tunable liquid lenses. One of these lenses added to an imaging lens allows focusing on different z-positions without compromising the image quality. By eliminating the need for manual adjustments or multiple objectives and cameras, the cost and the system complexity decrease drastically. Optotune tunable lenses can be added to standard imaging systems comprising a camera and an imaging objective and enable rapid, electrical tuning of working distance within milliseconds while preserving resolution and field of view of the original system.

In our next post we will explain the applications of the liquid lenses.