This year’s EMVA Young Professional Award winner was Dr Johannes Meyer for his “Light Field Methods for the Visual Inspection of Transparent Objects”. Machine Vision and Automation Magazine caught up with Dr Meyer.
Winning one of the industry’s biggest awards – the EMVA Young Professional Award – is something only few will achieve. Its magnitude cannot be overstated and demonstrates the talent and knowledge coming into the machine vision industry.
This year’s winner, Dr Johannes Meyer, is no exception after the judges recognized his outstanding work Light Field Methods for the Visual Inspection of Transparent Objects.
EMVA noted: “His thesis introduces methods based on the concept of light fields for all main components of a visual inspection system, the illumination source, the sensor device and the signal processing algorithms. A novel sensor system, the laser deflection scanner, allows to acquire high resolution light fields of transparent objects.
“By means of suitable processing algorithms, material defects can be extracted out of these light fields in real time. Furthermore, a method for inverse light field illumination has been developed, that suppresses all intended structures of the test objects and reveals material defects with high contrast. A thorough experimental evaluation stated the superiority of the introduced methods over the state of the art with respect to several criteria.”
The EMVA Young Professional Award is an annual award to honour the outstanding and innovative work of a student or a young professional in the field of machine vision or image processing. We spoke to Johannes, who is a lead engineer at ITK Engineering.
What does winning the award mean to you? Having successfully defended my PhD I somehow got the official academic confirmation that my research was scientifically novel and sound. However, I could not be sure if my methods would be really applied in some real system. Winning the EMVA Young Professional Award then also showed me that my work also has an industrial importance and that the machine vision industry acknowledges it – so I’m really glad and happy for the decision of the jury. Having won such an award could be beneficial for future applications.
Describe your role at ITK Engineering? I’m currently working as a Lead Engineer in the field of computer vision. This role is two-folded, on the one hand I’m dealing with practical engineering tasks and on the other hand I’m a senior consultant for vision questions. I try to have an eye on emerging topics that will gain practical relevance in the next years, like deep learning, which is already relevant, or computational imaging / compressed sensing. Most of my current projects are related to the topics of highly automated driving and to sophisticated visual inspection applications.
How does the award fit with your role at ITK? The award is related to the work I did in my PhD thesis and the projects I have been working on during that time at the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB. One of the unique selling points of ITK is that they usually develop white box software solutions for their customers including a transfer of the intellectual property if wanted. Hence, we are coping with challenging new problems every day. For finding the right solutions, I greatly benefit from all I learned at Fraunhofer.
You were previously at Fraunhofer, which is world renowned for driving technological advancements. What was your role there involve and what impact has that had on your career? The Fraunhofer-IOSB is about finding solutions for even the hardest visual inspection problems by combining novel optical setups with the appropriate processing algorithms. It looks to solve problems, for which there is no ready-to-use solution available on the market. My role in fulfilling this mission was to support the whole development chain, i.e., to come up with suitable ideas, performing an experimental proof of concept, making the algorithms robust and capable of real time requirements and finally installing the first system at the customer’s site. Hence, I really did learn quite a lot of different skills: getting in touch with customers, understanding their needs, sketching first concepts, building prototypes, implementing efficient algorithms and also how to connect the right wires in order to get the final system up and running.
Having completed your doctorate last year, have you any further plans for academic research and to stay in academia? I still have some interesting ideas in mind which I’d like to try out as soon as I find the time for them. Returning to academia in the future, maybe on a part-time basis, is a definite option for me. I did not want to lose contact with the research sector and as I really enjoyed teaching during my PhD, I will carry out a teaching assignment this winter term at the university.
What was the appeal of the optics/ vision sector? I’ve always been interested in machines, robots or automated systems that are capable of perceiving their environment and making sensible decisions based on their sensor data. Besides, I think optics is a really fascinating field which you can think of as a bag of tricks when it comes to developing an inspection system. By designing the optics right and by using the proper sensor technology, e.g. light field optics, you might even be able to see differences in the index of refraction.
What is the future for computer vision and what impact will it have? In my opinion, the role of computer vision will experience a continual gain of importance in various fields including, highly automated driving, automation and the medical sector. Computer vision will also help to reduce the amount of pesticides and herbicides needed for farming by precisely locating weeds besides the core plants. Furthermore, we might be able to quickly assess whether food in our fridges is still consumable by just taking a – possibly hyperspectral – picture of it using our smartphones which will reduce the overall waste of food.
What are your future career plans? Since I have just finished my PhD and started working in the industry, I haven’t thought too intensely about the next steps. Now it is about getting more experience in the industrial sector then maybe return to a research institute.
For more information on the EMVA visit: www.emva.org