Microscan is celebrating 30 years in the auto ID and machine vision business. The company prides itself on bringing ground-breaking solutions to market since its start in 1982, when founder Mike Mertel integrated a laser diode into a barcode scanner, producing a smaller, faster, and safer barcode reading solution.
Today, Microscan represents the convergence of multiple separate, equally innovative histories. With the 2008 acquisition of Siemens Machine Vision business, Microscan's genealogy not only includes the pioneering auto ID line spawned by Mertel, but a history in machine vision that spans more than three decades. Its milestones include the invention of the first personal computer-based machine vision system and the industry standard 2D code, Data Matrix.
Originally designed for use in the photo finishing industry, Mertel's laser diode barcode scanner launched the company in 1982, and by the late 1980s, Microscan had grown to become the leading supplier of embedded barcode readers to the clinical diagnostics industry, thanks to the revolutionary small size of its scanners. Acquired by Fairey Group (now Spectris) in 1994, Microscan is still the leader in this market. The company's reach has since broadened to include a broader manufacturing marketplace, with an emphasis on the packaging and electronics industries, in addition to its continued focus on clinical customers. Microscan's product portfolio has expanded to address the ever-growing need for cradle-to-grave traceability; its line of readers now includes both laser and image-based technologies in a variety of fixed mount and handheld configurations.
The early 1980s also saw the beginning of machine vision in factory automation. During this time, two innovative companies, Automatix and iTran, were developing vision inspection products for these new industrial applications. Founded in 1980 and 1982, respectively, the two companies merged to form Acuity in 1994. Not long thereafter, I.D. Matrix, the developer of the Data Matrix symbology, and NERLITE, the well-known machine vision lighting company, would join Acuity under the RVSI, and later, Siemens, brand. The 2008 acquisition of this division rounded out Microscan's portfolio of track, trace, and control products to include a complete line of barcode, machine vision, and machine vision lighting technologies.
Auto ID and machine vision converge
Microscan has built a unique set of core competencies over the past three decades, culminating in the launch of the AutoVISION suite in 2011. A convergence of auto ID and machine vision technologies, the product line includes the Vision Hawk and Vision Mini smart cameras, as well as the simplified AutoVISION machine vision software interface. "Miniaturisation, ease of use, and scalability are the three core benefits of our technology that we choose to focus on," says Microscan President Scott Summerville. With AutoVISION, "customers can solve a multitude of applications with a single interface."
30 years after its founding, Microscan is the owner of over 100 patents and the company continues to develop innovative technology products to help its customers meet traceability requirements, reduce costs, and ensure accuracy in their process.