Photoneo is a leading provider of industrial 3D vision, AI-powered automation solutions, and robotic intelligence software. Since its foundation in 2013, the Slovakian startup has received multiple accolades, including the inVision Top Innovations award in 2019 and 2021, the IERA Award 2020 and most recently, the inspect award 2021.
The company’s mission is “to give vision and intelligence to robots all over the world so that they can see and understand.” Photoneo provides services for companies in various fields including automotive, logistics, e-commerce, food, and medical industry to improve the performance and efficiency of their manufacturing, fulfilment, and assembly processes.
When discussing 3D vision, the reconstruction of scenes in motion has posed a great challenge to the developers of 3D vision systems as none of the existing 3D sensing technologies has been fully able to overcome their own limitations. Opting for one method or another, the customer is often left with a compromise between quality and the speed of the device. Photoneo thinks their newest 3D camera changes that. With an accuracy of 40 meters/second and the precision of point clouds, they say the MotionCam-3D is the highest-resolution and highest-accuracy area scan 3D camera that is able to capture objects in motion.
The speed and precision of the camera are in part due to a new technology they invented called “Parallel Structured Light”, which they say “fundamentally shifts the limits of 3D vision and fills the gap among the existing 3D sensing methods.” The technology uses structured light in combination with a proprietary mosaic shutter CMOS image sensor to capture objects in motion at high quality. The sensor consists of super-pixel blocks that are further divided into subpixels. The laser from a structured light projector is on the entire time, whilst the individual pixels are repeatedly turned on and off. The camera reconstructs its 3D image from one single shot of the sensor, “paralyzing” it as it passes. This is the core ingredient of 3D technology.
Co-founder and CTO of Photoneo, Tomas Kovacovsky, noted that the structured light method isn’t perfect but they offer a solution. He said, “The big limitation of the structured light method is that the projector-encoded patterns are captured by the camera sequentially and because the image acquisition of a 3D surface requires multiple frames, it cannot be used for dynamic objects or while the sensor is in motion as the output would be distorted.” This limitation has been solved with the “Parallel Structured Light” technology, which enables the capture of a dynamic scene without motion blur.
Gabriele Jansen, Managing Partner at Vison Ventures, is optimistic about the MotionCam-3D. She said that the camera “closed the gap“ amongst existing 3D technologies, enabling something “we have painfully missed so far – the high accuracy snap-shot area scan of large work areas in motion.”
With two accolades to their name this year already, 2021 looks promising for Photoneo.