Researchers Develop Optical Tomography System with BitFlow Frame Grabber to Better Diagnosis Eye Diseases

WOBURN, MA, MARCH 11, 2022 — High resolution 3D imaging of biological tissue is used extensively in the diagnosis of eye diseases, typically by applying a technique known as Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT). OCT testing has become a standard of care for the assessment and treatment of most retinal conditions. It is comparable to ultrasound, except that OCT employs light rather than sound and thereby achieves clearer, sharper resolution.
In a typical OCT system, an optical signal from a broadband source is divided into sample-arm and reference-arm signals using a beam splitter. Both signals are combined and an interference signal is detected by a detector assembly. Some systems employ a wavelength-tuning optical source and are termed “swept source” OCT (SS-OCT). Meanwhile, a system where a stationary broadband signal is dispersed spatially and detected using a spectrometer is referred as a Fourier Domain OCT (FD-OCT).
Both SS-OCT and FD-OCT techniques suffer from changes in the polarization of the optical signal when the signal is transmitted through materials possessing anisotropic properties, meaning they have a different value when measured from different directions. This results in artifacts that compromise the quality of the image, and therefore, the ability of doctors to diagnose a disease.
Reducing Polarization Artifacts Funded by Max-Planck-Gesellschaft and Massachusetts General Hospital, a team of researchers have developed a polarization insensitive detection unit (PIDU) for a spectrometer-based FD-OCT system that greatly minimized polarization associated artifacts in OCT images. The spectrometer unit employed diffraction grating (set at 1200 lines per mm), an 80mm lens, and a Sensors Unlimited InGaAs line-scan camera with a resolution of 2048 pixels.
Data from the spectrometer was collected at a line-scan speed of 100kHz utilizing a BitFlow Axion-CL Camera Link frame grabber. The Axion-CL supports a single Base CL camera, Power over Camera Link (PoCL), and can acquire up to 24 bits at 85MHz. The frame grabber benefits from a PCIe Gen 2 interface and a DMA optimized for fully loaded computers. Data collected by the Axion-CL was processed on LabVIEW software.
To demonstrate the proof of principle in biological tissue the researchers imaged chicken breast because of its high birefringence. Tests were conducted on the OCT system with and without the PIDU. During the imaging, the tissue was held in hand and maneuvered constantly to mimic real clinical conditions. Images were acquired and recorded for 10 seconds.
For the OCT system without PIDU, it was observed that the bright and dark bands of the sample were constantly fluctuating which can be attributed to the polarization dependent phase changes in the sample light. The OCT system with PIDU, however, showed that the image artifacts were not noticeable, making for images that are more accurate for a doctor to observe. Researchers found that in close examination, it was not only the light from the tissue that changes in intensity but also the light from the inner wall of the capsule which is not in tissue contact. This supports the idea that polarization artifacts come not solely from a tissue sample, but can also arise from the system itself.
The researchers believe their new design will be particularly useful in clinical settings where the sample arm is constantly under motion during probe introduction or when it is subjected to peristaltic motion. Further studies are planned on other biological tissues.
David Odeke Otuya, Gargi Sharma, Guillermo J. Tearney, and Kanwarpal Singh, “All fiber polarization insensitive detection for spectrometer based optical coherence tomography using optical switch,” OSA Continuum 2, 3465-3469 (2019)
Schematic of the FD-OCT system employing polarization insensitive detection scheme is shown. SMF: Single mode fiber, Cr: circulator, BS: beam splitter, PC: polarization controller, Co: collimator, NDF: neutral density filter, M: mirror, MPU: motor power unit, EC: electrical connection, MW: motor wire, PBS: polarizing beam splitter, OS: optical switch, G: grating, L: lens, LSC: line scan camera (Image courtesy of Otuya, Sharma, Tearney, and Singh)
(left) Image of chicken breast tissue acquired with OCT system without PIDU and (right) image of the same tissue acquired with OCT system with PIDU (Image courtesy of Otuya, Sharma, Tearney, and Singh)

BitFlow BFPython API provides Python Wrapper to Enable Rapid Prototyping

WOBURN, MA, FEBRUARY 23, 2022 — BitFlow, a global leader in frame grabbers for machine vision, life sciences and industrial imaging, has introduced BFPython, an application programming interface that allows engineers with Python expertise to acquire images from BitFlow’s broad range of frame grabbers. Available immediately, these Python bindings wrap the BitFlow SDK’s configuration, acquisition, buffer management and camera control APIs. The download also includes several Python examples that illustrate how bindings can be used.

A free, open source programming language, Python is simple to learn and use, making it one of the most popular languages for developing imaging applications, whether in Linux, Windows or embedded platforms. In machine vision, where prototyping is mission critical to understanding how a proposed imaging solution is progressing, BitFlow BFPython accelerates the building process and reduces final development costs for those experienced with Python code. To further assist in development, BFPython includes several sub-modules that provide convenient interfaces to access features such as CoaXPress camera control (via GenICam), Camera Link camera control (via the CL Serial API), among others. 

Supporting the full line of BitFlow frame grabbers, the BitFlow SDK enables developers to bring high-speed image acquisition into machine vision applications, from cost-efficient simple inspection to ultra high-speed, high-resolution systems. The SDK includes a large number of example applications with full source code for aiding in the understanding the available functions, along with a number of utilities for developing and debugging. The free SDK version is for use with third-party applications such as LabVIEW, VisionPro and HALCON. The paid version is required for users developing their own applications, and offers such high-level advantages as header files, libraries and extensive example programs with detailed source code. 

BitFlow Frame Grabber Helps Researchers Generate 3D Structural Images of Biological Tissues

WOBURN, MA, JANUARY 24, 2022 — Biology researchers at Indiana University1 have developed an integrated system combining high-resolution optical coherence microscopy (HR-OCM) with dual-channel scanning confocal fluorescence microscopy (DC-SCFM) to enable 3D visual evaluation of cell activities involved in pupil developmental and disease conditions. Still in its experimental stages, this dual-modality 3D system simultaneously co-registers reflectance and fluorescence signals, giving it the ability to accurately track structural and functional changes in live specimens over time. Indiana University researchers hope to use their system to enable new investigations of biological processes in small animal models.
BitFlow Axion Camera Link frame grabber is a critical component of the hybrid system. It acquires the output signal from a spectrometer equipped with a Teledyne e2v high-speed line-scan camera operating at the rate of 250 kHz. A lateral resolution of 2-μm and axial resolution of 2.4-μm is captured in tissue over a field-of-view of 1.1 mm ×1.1 mm. The analog scanning signals, as well as the trigger signals for the BitFlow frame grabber, are generated synchronously through a four-channel analog output data acquisition card. Simultaneous recording of HR-OCM and DC-SCFM data was performed using custom software developed in LabVIEW 2017.
As data generated by faster, higher-resolution Camera Link cameras continues to grow exponentially, the Axion’s PCIe Gen 2 interface, with its StreamSync™ DMA optimized for modern computers, is needed to optimize their full performance. Features such as easier switching between different tap formats, a powerful acquisition engine, and a more flexible I/O and timing generator are all readily available in a dedicated low cost CL Base orientated frame grabber.
During development, researchers applied different strategies to enable the simultaneous recording of information, as well as to overcome the focal plane mismatch between both imaging modalities. The system’s performances were evaluated in imaging fluorescence microspheres embedded in multi-layer tape and silicone phantom. 
The combined system is synergistic in generating structural and functional information of samples; the DC-SCFM allows for the discrimination between different fluorophores, while the HR-OCM enables the 3D localization of the features inside tissue samples and enabled the depth localization.

1 “Development of high-speed, integrated high-resolution optical coherence microscopy and dual-channel fluorescence microscopy for the simultaneous co-registration of reflectance and fluorescence signals” Reddikumar Maddipatla, PatriceTankam School of Optometry, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA

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Neon-DIF Frame Grabber is BitFlow’s Upgrade Solution to Older Machine Vision Systems Running Differential Cameras

Neon DIF

Older machine vision systems are difficult and costly to upgrade, especially those based on RS422 and low-voltage differential signaling (LVDS) type interfaces. Incompatible with most modern frame grabbers, these legacy differential systems can now be brought up to speed using the BitFlow Neon-DIF differential frame grabber. Designed on the latest PCI Express (PCIe) platform, the Neon-DIF will upgrade an older differential system to acquire images up to 32 bits at 85 MHz from an existing LVDS camera, providing greater control, plus the convenience of running on Windows 10 or Linux OS.

“There are thousands of older differential systems today that handle basic processes at minimal cost, such as mail sorting, package handling, X-ray imaging, Focused Ion Beam, and Scanning Electron Microscopes. Unfortunately, users can’t upgrade the system’s PC to one featuring more powerful processing and a newer OS because the original PCI frame grabber is no longer available or isn’t compatible with a new PC,” explained Donal Waide, Director of Sales for BitFlow, Inc. “Our Neon-DIF frame grabber enables the user to save money by keeping the same LVDS line or area scan cameras, devices and application, yet upgrade their PC to use faster, more accurate image processing algorithms.”

Rather than PCI, the Neon-DIF is built on a half-size x4 PCIe bus interface that fits into the x16, x8, x4 and x1 slots found in today’s PCs. It installs fast and simple, bringing to an existing system a full set of new control signals and sync inputs for total camera and acquisition control.

Upgrades BitFlow Road Runner and R3-DIF
Along with older PCI frame grabbers from other manufacturers, the Neon-DIF provides an upgrade path for users of BitFlow Road Runner and R3-DIF PCI frame grabbers. It has the same connector pin-out and is compatible with their cables.

Ideal for Differential System OEMs
Besides legacy situations, the NEON-DIF is a cost-effective PCIe choice for OEMs developing new systems featuring cameras or other devices that output differential data. The Neon-DIF can acquire from just about any device and efficiently DMA its data into host memory at rates of 528 MB/S.

BitFlow SDK Support
The Neon-DIF is supported by the BitFlow SDK for both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows platforms. The SDK offers drivers, DLLs, and configuration utilities for people interested in using third party software. For those customers interested in developing their own applications, the SDK has header files, libraries, and example code for Windows XP/2003/Vista/Windows 7/10.

New Whitepaper to Help Machine Vision Designers Control CoaXPress Cameras for Greater Flexibility and Lower Costs

Claxon CXP4

WOBURN, MA, JUNE 23, 2020 – The challenges facing today’s machine vision integrators are more complicated and critical than ever before, as they strive to build faster, more accurate and cost-efficient systems in the wake of changing technology. To that end, BitFlow has published a new whitepaper Controlling CoaXPress Cameras from The BitFlow SDK Tools, Configuration File and APIs designed to help integrators new to the CoaXPress (CXP) standard introduce advanced CXP cameras into system infrastructure to shape positive outcomes.

CoaXPress is the world’s fastest standard for professional and industrial imaging applications such as machine vision, medical imaging, life sciences, broadcast and defense. It is an asymmetric point-to-point serial communication standard that transmits video and still images, scalable over single or multiple coaxial cables. It has a high speed downlink of up to 12.5 Gbps per cable for video, images and data, plus a lower speed uplink up to 42 Mbps for communications and control.

An invaluable learning tool, the 10-page whitepaper details the flexible CXP tools available in the BitFlow SDK (Software Development Kit), and how they work in concert to meet different application needs. It also provides examples showing optimization of a CXP machine vision system, accelerated and simplified by the BitFlow SDK.

The publication of the new whitepaper is part of the rollout of the new BitFlow Claxon CXP-12 PCIe Gen 3 frame grabber. CXP-12 is the latest CoaXPress speed jump, now transmitting video at 12. 5 Gb/S.

Get your copy here.

BitFlow Signs Strategic Distribution Partnership with Tietech to Expand Presence in Japan

WOBURN, MA, MAY 27, 2020 — BitFlow, a global leader in frame grabbers powering machine vision systems, today announced it has signed a new distribution agreement with ITANZI, a core company of Tietech Co., Ltd, headquartered in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. With this agreement, BitFlow and Tietech are ideally positioned to meet the growing demand in the Japanese market for high-speed machine vision components required for the Industry 4.0 era. Working together, both companies are poised to capture significant market share by bringing industry-leading vision technology to Japan’s massive industrial base.

Under its distribution partnership with BitFlow, Tietech is now the primary distributor of BitFlow grabbers and accessories in Japan, and is also providing system integration and factory automation services using BitFlow products. In addition, Tietech will provide localized technical support, and has exclusive rights to certain BitFlow products in Japan.

“We at Tietech are very pleased to be entering into this new chapter together with BitFlow. Their products will blend perfectly into our ITANZI portfolio, and we are looking forward to expanding into the Japanese machine vision market together,” said Mr. Masahito Murase, Company Chairman of ITANZI.

Donal Waide, Director of Sales for BitFlow, stated, “This is an exciting time for BitFlow and a chance to consolidate our position in the Japanese market. BitFlow has been present in the Japanese machine vision market for over 15 years and this new partnership will enable us to demonstrate our world class products at the highest level.”

ITANZI is the machine vision brand of Tietech Co., Ltd, a part of the Techno Horizon Holdings group.

BitFlow Introduces SDK for NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier Development Kit

Jetson with a Claxon

BitFlow has released a Linux AArch64 (64-bit ARM) SDK that enables seamless integration of BitFlow frame grabbers with the NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier Development Kit. 

Donal Waide, Director of Sales for BitFlow, states, “Many of our customers are already using GPU solutions such as NVIDIA for image processing so adding this option to the already large BitFlow suite of adapters was a natural progression for the company. BitFlow has been supporting Linux for several years across a variety of flavors.”

Added Waide, “BitFlow was one of the first frame grabber companies to support NVIDIA’s GPUDirect for Video technology. BitFlow and NVIDIA have worked together for a number of years already.” 

With the advent of the new machine vision standard CXP 2.0 where data rates are now up to 50 Gb/S, customers are looking to process more and more data and in shorter timeframes. For this, a GPU can typically perform these tasks much more effectively than a CPU. Even with slower data rates such as Camera Link’s (up to 850 MB/S) the ability to quickly process more complex algorithms is equally important. 

The NVIDIA Jetson AGX Xavier is the first computer designed specifically for autonomous machines. It has six Engines onboard for accelerated sensors data processing and running autonomous machines software, and offers the performance and power efficiency for fully autonomous machines.

BitFlow and COVID-19

VALIDITY confirmed May 19th, 2020.

To our valued customer network,

We appreciate your commitment to BitFlow during this truly unique time as we work to overcome the challenges related to COVID-19. As we have seen worldwide it is the strength of our communities that will help us past this hurdle.

These same communities are depending on your ability to sustain all production that is deemed necessary and vital to the control of this pandemic.

In  April, Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all MA businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close.  As of May 19th 2020, the state of MA has eased restrictions on some businesses and organizations.

As a key supplier to essential businesses BitFlow is continuing to maintain operations with a minimum staff level in line with the order.  Our non essential employees are all working remotely and are able to assist you in real time.

Our support team can be reached at support@bitflow.com

Our sales team can be reached at sales@bitflow.com

Should anything change, we will update you accordingly. Please be sure to keep an eye on our website (www.bitflow.com/news) , and also follow us on Twitter (@BitFlowInc) for latest news.

Sincerely,

Avner Butnaru, CEO
Reynold Dodson, President

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FLIR Recommends BitFlow Cyton CXP-4 CoaXPress Frame Grabber for ResearchIR Software

BitFlow received an important endorsement of its CoaXPress™ frame grabbers from FLIR®, the world leader in the design, manufacture, and marketing of thermal imaging infrared cameras. FLIR has recommended the BitFlow Cyton CXP-4 CoaXPress™ as a preferred frame grabber for FLIR ResearchIR™ software, a powerful and easy to-use thermal analysis software package for FLIR Research & Development / Science cameras.

While ResearchIR software is compatible with a variety of PCI Express (PCIe) frame grabbers, FLIR highlighted the Cyton CXP-4 as being an optimal way to maximize its performance. ResearchIR software connects directly to FLIR cameras via a frame grabber to acquire thermal snapshots or movie files, or to customize recording options including start times, end times, and the number of frames to acquire. In addition to ResearchIR, FLIR recommends the Cyton CXP-4 for its Research Studio software and its BHP SDK (Software Development Kit) which is used to write custom GUIs.

In a technical note, FLIR explained that standard CoaXPress frame grabbers may be difficult to get up and running with its BHP SDK. However, it pointed out that when the Bitflow Cyton CXP-4 is resident in a workstation where ResearchIR has been loaded, both the driver and camera configuration files will already be installed, saving the integrator considerable time wasted downloading drivers and additional supporting software.

The BitFlow Cyton CXP4 four-channel frame grabber is based on the CoaXPress standard. It incorporates the Gen 2.0 x8 PCI Express bus interface on its back end, doubling the data rate of the Gen 1.0 bus for high-speed access to host memory in multicamera systems, while using the same compact footprint and connectors. By supporting the CoaXPress standard on its front end, the board facilitates video capture speeds of up to 6.25 Gb/s in applications deploying one to four CXP-6 cameras. It also allows control commands, triggers and power to be sent to and from cameras over the same 75 Ohm coaxial cable.

BitFlow Confirms Coronavirus Will Not Delay Frame Grabber Shipments to Customers

 
WOBURN, MA, MARCH 4, 2020 — Responding to customer inquiries, BitFlow announced today that it does not expect to face delivery delays of its frame grabbers due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak originating in Wuhan, China.
BitFlow’s manufacturing facilities are located within the United States where the virus has not impacted production. The company is now actively managing it’s supply chain, adding domestic sources, and stocking long lead items to offset the effects of anticipated delays in the marketplace and meet global demand.
“In the best interests of our customers, BitFlow is monitoring the rapidly evolving outbreak and wants to reassure the professionals who depend on our products that we expect no manufacturing delays in the coming months,” said Jim Locke, Chief Financial Officer, BitFlow, Inc. “Our hearts go out to all those whose health, loved ones and communities have been affected by the coronavirus.”
As with the vast majority of global industries, machine vision has been put on edge by COVID-19. For example, Laser World of Photonics, scheduled to take place in Shanghai from March 18 to 20, has been postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Chinese machine vision market that sprung up over the last decade is valued at approximately $1.1 billion dollars, or 11.0% of the global total, according to market research.
About BitFlow
BitFlow has been developing reliable, high-performance Frame Grabbers for use in imaging applications since 1993. BitFlow is the leader in Camera Link frame grabbers, building the fastest frame grabbers in the world, with the highest camera/frame grabber densities, triggering performance, and price. With thousands of boards installed throughout the world, into hundreds of imaging applications, BitFlow is dedicated to using this knowledge and experience to provide customers with the best possible image acquisition and application development solutions. BitFlow, located in Woburn, MA, has distributors and resellers located all over the world including Asia, the Americas, and Europe. Visit our website at www.bitflow.com.