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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BitFlow Turbo-Charges Single Link Frame Grabber with Latest CoaXPress Standard

Claxon CXP1 designed for new generation of single link CXP-12 cameras

WOBURN, MA, SEPTEMBER 18, 2020 – BitFlow has expanded its Claxon™ series of high-performance CoaXPress CXP-12 frame grabbers with a new single link version that transfers image data from a CXP camera to the host memory at speeds up to 12.5 Gb/S, or twice the acquisition bandwidth of the previous generation of the CoaXPress standard. The BitFlow Claxon CXP1 provides developers of smaller-scale, yet complex vision systems with a deterministic, zero-latency pipeline ideal for applications that include aerospace, AOI, science and robotics, as well as high-speed linescan inspection of printed materials or textiles.

Like the Claxon CXP4 quad link model from BitFlow, the new frame grabber takes full advantage of a half-size PCI Express expansion bus and StreamSync™ DMA to deliver the sustained bandwidth needed to support acquisition from one of the new generation single-link CXP-12 cameras. Cameras are “plug-and-play” with automatic link speed and camera parameter detection.

In addition to transmitting bitrates up to 12.5 Gb/S, the Claxon CXP1 has an uplink interface of up to 41.6 Mbps, and further simplifies integration by supplying 13 watts of Safe Power through PoCXP — all on a single Coaxial cable using reliable micro-BNC (HD-BNC) connectors. Unlike USB3, Camera Link or other interfaces that rely on passive cable lengths of a few meters or less, the Claxon CXP1 frame grabber supports a 40-meter maximum cable length without the use of a repeater that could jeopardize signal integrity. Fanless passive cooling ensures extended use of the frame grabber without maintenance.

Claxon CXP1 frame grabbers are supported by BitFlow’s software development kit (SDK) to help developers in the configuration of vision systems. The SDK contains fully developed applications, and a variety of utilities and libraries, and supports both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows and Linux. Drivers for third party applications are also available, such as LabView, VisionPro and HALCON.

BitFlow Joins with OneBoxVision in Developing Vision Systems for Plastic Film Extruder

WOBURN, MA, AUGUST 18, 2020 — BitFlow recently assisted OneBoxVision, an integrator located in Ireland, in developing two web-based machine vision systems for a North American film extruder. The systems ensure consistent, defect-free film for plastic bags used for storage of powered milk. Dry milk products are highly sensitive to environmental conditions, particularly to moisture. This vulnerability makes it critical that plastic bags storing the powder not have holes where water or humidity can enter to spoil the product.

To prevent holes, the extruder required its plastic film be  continuously assessed for the presence of carbon or “black” specks while it was being extruded on a blown film line. Black specks in plastic film or sheet – especially in light-colored or clear plastics used to store foods – can cause holes in the material when it’s later oriented or thermoformed. Black specks also lead to expensive rejects, wasted resin, and production downtime, not to mention client dissatisfaction.

Once the extruded plastic is processed, inspected and approved at the first plant, it is shipped to a second site where an automated line fabricates it into bags during a multi-state production process. Another inspection station was installed there by OneBoxVision to scan the finished bags. OneBoxVision networked the system so that management at the second plant had access to the inspection data from the extrusion plant to compare results.

For the key technology enabler, OneBoxVision relied upon its SurfaceFlow™ software. SurfaceFlow is a complete quality package that can be deployed on plastic film lines to automatically detect holes, carbon, wrinkles, contamination and gels. Hardware included BitFlow Axion CL 2xE CameraLink frame grabbers, along with Chromasens allPIXA pro line scan cameras transmitting color images full-tilt at over 1 Gbytes per second. By adopting an “off-the-shelf” non-proprietaryhardware approach, OneBoxVision enables plastic film extruders, printers and converters, medical packaging manufacturers, and injection molding plants to deploy its high-performance solutions at a far lower cost with reduced risk.

By timing the line-by-line scanning with the transport cycle in the transport direction, a distortion-free image of the bags can be achieved. The particular strength of the line scan cameras emerges when they are used in conjunction with a highly deterministic, low latency frame grabber. In this situation, the BitFlow frame grabber synchronizes the image captures with the incoming triggers, plus provides energy to the cameras with its Power over Camera Link (PoCL).

One of the challenges for the second operation was that the bag inspection system had to be placed after a rotary punch perforated the bags. This meant the new system had to not only inspect for random holes in the plastic that could spoil the milk powder, but check that the manufactured perforations were properly made and in-place. Adding to this challenge is that the roll-feed runs continuously for hours, at high feed rates, and with limited human inspection. Again, SurfaceFlow was up to the job. OneBoxVision developed a suite of tools that perform both perforation and seam analysis while checking for the presence of defects. Simple but effective, the second vision system is made up of a single camera coupled with a BitFlow Axion CL 2xE frame grabber installed on the bag line.

The BitFlow Axion-CL is the most powerful CL frame grabber BitFlow has ever manufactured, featuring a StreamSync Direct Memory Access (DMA) engine and buffer manager to prevent overloading of the CPU with image transfer operations, along with a PCIe Gen 2 expansion bus to deliver high-speed access to host memory.

Google Healthcare Relies on BitFlow CoaXPress Frame Grabber for Augmented Reality Microscope

WOBURN, MA, AUGUST 6, 2020 – BitFlow frame grabber technology has been incorporated into a prototype Augmented Reality Microscope (ARM) platform that researchers at Google AI Healthcare (Mountain View, CA) believe will accelerate the adoption of deep learning tools for pathologists around the world in the critical task of visually examining both biological and physical samples at sub-millimeter scales.

The application driving the ARM platform runs on a standard off-the-shelf computer with a BitFlow Cyton CoaXPress (CXP) 4-channel frame grabber (CYT-PC2-CXP4) connected to an Adimec S25A80 25-megapixel CXP camera for live image capture, along with an NVidia Titan Xp GPU for running deep learning algorithms. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI), the platform enables real-time image analysis and presentation of the results of machine learning algorithms directly into the field of view.

Importantly, the ARM can be retrofitted into existing light microscopes found in hospitals and clinics around the world using low-cost, readily-available components, such as the BitFlow Cyton frame grabber, and without the need for whole slide digital versions of the tissue being analyzed. This innovation comes as welcome news: despite significant advances in AI research, integration of deep-learning tools into real-world diagnosis workflows remains challenging because of the costs of image digitization and difficulties in deploying AI solutions in microscopic analysis. Besides being economical, the ARM platform is application-agnostic and can be utilized in most microscopy applications.

According to Google researchers, opto-mechanical component selection were driven by final performance requirements, specifically for effective cell and gland level feature representation. The Adimec camera’s 5120×5120 pixel color sensor features high sensitivity and global shutter capable of capturing images at up to 80 frames/sec, while the BitFlow Cyton CXP-4 has a universal PCI-E interface to the computer that simplifies set-up. The eMagin SXGA096,1292×1036 pixel microdisplay mounted on the side of the microscope includes an HDMI interface for receiving images from the computer. This opto-mechanical design can be easily retrofitted into most standard bright field microscopes. Including the computer, the overall cost of the ARM system is at least an order of magnitude lower than conventional whole-slide scanners, without incurring the workflow changes and delays associated with digitization.

The basic ARM pipeline consists of a set of threads that continuously grab an image frame from the camera, debayer it to convert the raw sensor output into an RGB color image, prepare the data, run the deep learning algorithm, process the results, and finally display the output.

Google researchers believe that the ARM has potential for a large impact on global health, particularly for the diagnosis of infectious diseases, including tuberculosis and malaria, in developing countries. Furthermore, even in hospitals that will adopt a digital pathology workflow in the near future, ARM could be used in combination with the digital workflow where scanners still face major challenges or where rapid turnaround is required as is the case with cytology, fluorescent imaging, or intra-operative frozen sections.

Since light microscopes have proven useful in many industries other than pathology, the ARM can be adapted for a broad range of applications across healthcare, life sciences research, and material science. Beyond the life science, the ARM can potentially be applied to other microscopy applications such as material characterization in metallurgy 12 and defect detection in electronics manufacturing.

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.

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.

BitFlow in San Jose, California 2019

BitFlow will be exhibiting at the CRAV conference at the DoubleTree by Hilton San Jose from Tuesday November 12th through Wednesday November 13th.  Come stop by tabletop #63 to see our latest offerings.