Product Development and Characterization
Engineering a new product can sometimes become a long drawn-out process. The product development cycle can last from a few months to a few years. Often, being first to market can make the difference between market dominance and being just one of many. Once a product reaches the prototype, or even the initial release stage, testing for reliability, robustness, and real life behavior can determine a product’s success in the market place.
High-speed cameras can provide both qualitative and quantitative views of real-world phenomena just as an oscilloscope, spectrum analyzer, logic analyzer, etc. would. All are used to understand, verify, and otherwise characterize new or existing products. High-speed cameras can be used to ensure that real-world behavior matches assumed or simulated behavior, and they can be used to diagnose and troubleshoot problems when a product is not performing as expected. Where tradition test and measurement instruments sample electrical phenomena, a high-speed camera would be looks more at physical or mechanical behaviors of the product.
One problem with some traditional test techniques and equipment is that they frequently require a unit under test to have a physical attachment to probes or sensors such as accelerometers. The added mass of these devices along with their cabling alters the physical characteristics of the test subject. A component’s true behavior may not be accurately measured when instrumented in this way. High speed video virtually eliminates the need for physically attached sensors. Combined with motion analysis software tools, engineers can determine a subject’s true velocity, displacement, acceleration, and other valuable measurements using contactless test techniques without the need to compensate for attached instrumentation.A key advantage of employing a high-speed camera in the product development cycle is to eliminate the need for an educated guess when trying to determine the reason for a failure. In the past, engineers relied exclusively on models to predict the actions of a device or component. Today, high-speed cameras are used to confirm the accuracy of those models and to gather “real life” properties and movement. There is no longer a need to infer the cause of a failure based on traditional measurements. The cameras are used to record movement of components in order to verify that they perform as designed. Timing, accuracy, and intended operation can all be recorded and analyzed. Any anomalies or defects can be quickly corrected with less trial and error. In turn, adjustments to the design can be made more quickly thereby shortening development time.
Another common use for high speed cameras by product manufacturers is to test robustness and reliability. Many consumer products such as cell phones, PDAs, notebook computers, and personal music players are drop-tested to see how the item reacts to impact. The slow motion imagery reveals weaknesses in construction that can be countered in order to improve the robustness and reliability of a product.
A product that has already been developed and produced can often be in need of improvement. The first step would be to characterize the properties of the product in its current implementation. That allows engineers an opportunity to find areas that can be improved with a minor tweak or a full redesign. In some cases, so called “disruptive technologies” are developed by studying time tested designs and transforming their industry through a radical new approach. High-speed imaging can be used to create newer, cheaper, more effective products that challenge and revolutionize established designs.
Phantom solutions: High frame rates at high resolutions. Super fast shutter speeds with highly sensitive sensors.
Vision Research provides a line of high-speed cameras uniquely suited for these challenging applications. The cameras feature high frame rates at megapixel resolution, and short exposure times with unsurpassed light gathering ability not found in other CMOS based cameras.
Phantom cameras also possess a powerful feature leveraging the 12-bit sensors. The user has the ability to select an 8-bit subset of the full bit depth to display on the monitor. By adjusting the video output toward the bottom 8-bits, the user gains the equivalent of 10 f/stops of light without actually having to add additional illumination. This process is the equivalent of “pushing” ASA/ISO in the film world. While displaying the lower bits, the original 12-bits are retained in the recording preserving the full dynamic range. This allows the cameras to be operated a very high frame rates with blur eliminating high shutter speeds without the need for large amounts of additional light. Lower light requirements translate into less heat which can damage test subjects or alter their behavior due to temperature.
The optional SAM-3 feature allows traditional test and measurement data to be integrated with the Phantom camera video. Accelerometers, voltage, strain gauges, thermocouples, etc, can be synchronized with the high speed imagery. The sensor data can then be viewed simultaneously with the captured video frame to verify anticipated behavior to the precise moment an action was to occur.
Product design verification and characterization is a valuable step that can be used to speed the development process and helps to improve or revolutionize existing designs. Phantom cameras are an effective test and measurement tool which can bring about rapid project completion and cost savings within the engineering process.