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by Bruce Scharf on August 3, 2011
posted in Product Development
I would like to congratulate Mike Messina for his latest patent covering Microscan’s NERLITE® Edge-to-Edge Backlight technology. US patent 7,976,184 was issued on July 12, 2011. Microscan’s Edge-to-Edge Backlights are designed around a patented method of providing uniform illumination when multiple sections of backlights are combined. Mike’s newest patent extends that concept and allows the top diffuser plates to be changeable. The additional flexibility means users can now change the degree of diffusion for differing applications without having to purchase a new light. This latest invention, when combined with Edge-to-Edge technology provides the most flexible backlights in the industry.

Patent Abstract: An illumination system includes an illumination source such as an array of LEDs over which is provided a diffuser. The illumination source provides light which, because of light refraction, radiates generally uniformly from edge to edge of the diffuser. The diffuser may be a planar flat piece or may include a hollow, cuplike structure formed by a frame with a cover. The illumination system may be scaled up to provide multiple such illumination devices side by side to provide a greater area or strength of illumination. Multiple systems may utilize multiple diffusers or a single diffuser covering multiple illumination sources. The illumination source may be mounted to a backplate or heatsink which is larger than the illumination source to facilitate the addition of further electronic circuitry and or mounting capabilities.

For more information on Microscan machine vision lighting technology, visit our website.
by Jonathan Ludlow on July 14, 2011
posted in Product Development
Microscan’s new AutoVISION products are bridging the world of Auto ID and Machine Vision. AutoVISION is machine vision simplified and represents a giant leap forward in ease of use at the boundary between image based symbology readers and general purpose machine vision.

This advance has been made possible by combining the abilities of the Microscan engineering teams in Renton and Nashua to produce products that combine the strengths and abilities of both. This “Vulcan Mind Meld” is an impressive organizational feat but it has left one small area where the customary terminology overlaps in a way that might lead to confusion.

This is the vexed question of “what is meant by calibration?

In the world of imager based symbology with products such as the Microscan MINI and QX Hawk, Calibration means the adjustment of focus and sensor parameter to produce an appropriate image.

With the QX Hawk and MINI this is achieved by using the EZ button to command the system to determine the best focal distance by using the auto-focus mechanism to measure the distance to the part and then adjusting the gain and exposure to produce an image with good contrast.


With the new AutoVISION products the same effect is either by using the new AutoVISION button or by selecting the Auto Calibration button in the Image View screen in the AutoVISION application.

In the world of general purpose machine vision where Visionscape products are used for gauging of one kind or another the term Calibration means the system for relating measurements made in pixels to some practical real world units while at the same time making sure that the resulting measurement is as accurately as possible. This is achieved relating the pixel values to real world units during a calibration procedure. In Visionscape FrontRunner this can be done either by specifying a distance corresponding to a specified number of pixels – referred to as “Quick Calibration”, or by specifying “Robust Calibration” which uses a special eight dot target and associated precision dot location information to generate a transformation between pixel space and real-world space which takes into account X and Y scale factors, perspective, and camera rotation.

So here we have a possible source of confusion

When a machine vision guy speaks of calibration he means one thing and when an Auto ID dude speaks of calibration he means something else.

Now you might ask – “well why don’t you stop using the term calibration for either MV or Auto ID and start calling it something else?” Well, we nearly did - but the fact is there are a lot of happy users of QX products and Visionscape systems who could be confused (and annoyed) by a change in what they see as a clear and well understood term. It seemed the best to leave things as they were.

So how do you keep the terms apart and to make sure that you are not confused?

Think of it this way…
by Laura Hoffman on June 10, 2011
posted in Product Development
On behalf of everyone at Microscan, I am proud to announce that this month Microscan is unveiling 3 New Innovations in Machine Vision Technology:

Vision MINI: World's smallest fully integrated vision system

Vision HAWK: World's first liquid lens machine vision system

AutoVISION: Machine vision, simplified.

We are really excited about these groundbreaking new products, and have a short introductory video featuring Microscan employees introducing these new products.

Click here to learn more and watch the video.
by John Goss on April 12, 2011
posted in Product Development
If you haven’t noticed, Microscan has been gradually growing its line of handheld barcode scanners and readers. The range spreads from the economical (like the HS-2D & HS-1) for reading standard printed labels, to a professional handled scanner (like the Mobile Hawk) for easy reading of difficult-to-decode Direct Part Marking (DPM) symbols.

You may be wondering, “What’s the best scanner to select for my project?” Well it depends on your requirements.  Below is a table that highlights their image sensor technologies, lighting and best uses.

1 Dual focus splits the image sensor into two sections and incorporates two separate focus lenses.  One is focused for far field objects and one focuses on near field objects.

There is also a handy comparison chart available in the Handheld Barcode Scanner product section of our website. 

What may not be known about some Microscan handheld barcode scanners, is that most of these readers can be programmed to manipulate the output stream. And in some cases can be programmed to do special functions such as match code qualifying. The programming may be done in a simple XML rule and made into a scan code that programs the reader for that special function or setting. Or the programming may need to be more advanced and require Java Script programming.

Below is a short list of some past projects of programming:
by Scott Clifford on April 7, 2011
posted in Product Development
..... Back in May, 2010, Microscan released enhanced versions of our MS-1 CCD Scan Engine and our MS-2 Ultra-compact CCD Reader products. You may have heard them referred to as MS-1+, MS-2+ or 32-bit MS-1 and MS-2. No blaring trumpets or fanfare, just a quiet introduction of more horsepower under the same hood, at the same or even lower cost.

The new products offer significantly faster scanning and decoding, along with the convenience of USB connectivity. While we were at it, we added some additional symbol support and even increased the scan angle on the high density versions:

MS-1 CCD Scan Engine, MS-2 Ultra Compact CCD Reader: 32-bit vs. 16-bit


32-bit MS-1

16-bit MS-1


Scan Rate

Decode Rate

530 / sec

55 / sec

220 / sec


Almost 2.5 x faster scan rate

Almost 1.4 x faster decode

Scan Angle

Same for LD version, wider HD version

Wider scan angle on HD version





New USB connectivity broadens implementation options


Same or Less

More features, better price

Symbology Support

Most standard 1D Linear / Stacked, plus: PDF 417 and China Post

Most standard 1-D Linear / Stacked

Greater decode capability

by Bruce Scharf on March 10, 2011
posted in Product Development
Microscan continues to produce patents as well as cutting edge products. Two new patents were issued in February 2011. The first, US 7,886,979, is an expansion of Microscan’s patent portfolio covering off-axis machine vision lighting techniques, which enhance the ability to decode direct part mark symbols. The second, US 7,889,930, is another patent covering Data Matrix reading and enhancing the functionality of Microscan’s verification products. This most recent patent grants Microscan exclusive rights to this method, which helps the user align a symbol in the verifier’s field of view prior to verification, ensuring the most accurate grade is given.

by Bruce Scharf on February 16, 2011
posted in Product Development

I am pleased to announce that Microscan started out 2011 with a new patent issued in January. US patent 7,877,003 is the second of several patents that protect Microscan’s line of verification products.

Mike Messina’s invention covers different machine vision illumination methods to make sure the proper grade is assigned to a symbol. Without these lighting techniques, inconsistent and inaccurate grading according to ISO and AIM industry standards may result. Accurate grading is essential when generating data matrix and other symbols in order to ensure that the symbol can be decoded throughout the supply chain.

by Bruce Scharf on January 5, 2011
posted in Product Development
Happy New Year everyone. December closed out a very strong year for Microscan inventors with 3 patents being granted for machine vision lighting technology. Our total for 2010 was 10 patents issued which is over twice as many as our competition.

I would like to congratulate Mike Messina and Brian Thompson for US patent 7,850,338 which covers different methods for controlling diffuse lighting for machine vision inspection. Using these techniques, a single backlight can be controlled to handle a wide variety of different inspection tasks eliminating the need to purchase a different light for each type of part to be inspected.

Mike Messina is also the inventor in US patent 7,852,564 which expands upon our patented Diffuse On Axis Light (DOAL) machine vision lighting technology by adding additional beam splitters at various angles to provide Off-Axis light as well as On-Axis light. With this unique combination, curved surfaces are much easier to inspect.
by Tim O'Neel on December 14, 2010
posted in Product Development
Hello friends, ESP 5.8 is available in the Microscan Download Center. ESP is our powerful configuration and testing software, for use with Microscan Auto ID products. It supports our extensive product line of scanners and imagers, from the low-cost, high-performance MS-2 32-Bit CCD Reader to high-end, best-in-class QX Hawk Industrial Imager. ESP Software also supports Windows 7, Vista, XP, and 2000.

Support for MS-2 32-Bit CCD Reader

ESP 5.8 supports the new 32-bit MS-2 CCD Reader. The 32-bit MS-2 features a CCD image sensor, up to 55 decodes per second, and a 20 mm to 325 mm depth of field. The most visible (and sure to be one of the most welcome) changes to the MS-1 interface is the simplified firmware download process. Updating firmware is now as easy for this product as for our other Auto ID products. MS-2 32-Bit CCD Reader shown on

ESP model menu:

The 32-bit MS-2 also supports China Postal Code and PDF417 symbologies and multi-language keyboard mapping.
by Bruce Scharf on December 8, 2010
posted in Product Development
Season’s Greetings from Microscan!  The Microscan innovation machine continues to roll as evidenced by the recent award of two patents on November 16th.  These two patents are in addition to the four already granted in 2010.  I am truly thankful for the privilege of working with some of the most creative and innovative people in our industry.

I would like to recognize Jesse Kolstad for his continuing development of ways to decode symbols in out-of-focus and noisy environments. His U.S. patent 7,832,644 builds upon his previous patent 7,743,993 and is used in the QX-830 and QX-870.

I would also like to congratulate Tom Driscoll for his first patent, U.S. patent 7,835,634, titled “Camera Enclosure Sealing System and Method.”  As you can see from the figure in the patent, Tom helped develop the VS-1 sealing system technology that enables our smart camera to perform in even the harshest environments.

The inventions keep coming…