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Augmented HDR Vision For Welders (And Others) 38

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the reverse-engineered-predator-tech dept.
jehan60188 writes about a research project (involving Steve Mann) that combines a welding helmet and realtime HDR image processing to give welders a clear view of what they're working on. From the article: "In this demonstration, we present a specialized version of HDR imaging (use of multiple differently exposed input images for each extended-range output image), adapted for use in electric arc welding, which also shows promise as a general-purpose seeing aid. TIG welding, in particular, presents an extremely high dynamic range scene (higher than most other welding processes). Since TIG welding requires keen eyesight and exact hand-to-eye coordination (i.e. more skill and more visual acuity than most other welding processes), being able to see in such extreme dynamic range is beneficial to welders and welding inspectors. ... We present HDRchitecture as either a fixed camera system (e.g. for use on a tripod), or as a stereo EyeTap cybernetic welding helmet that records and streams live video from a welding booth to students or observers, nearby or remote. By capturing over a dynamic range of more than a million to one, we can see details that cannot be seen by the human eye or any currently existing commercially available cameras. We also present a highly parallelizable and computationally efficient HDR reconstruction and tonemapping algorithm for extreme dynamic range scene. In comparison to most of the existing HDR work, our system can run in real-time, and requires no user intervention such as parameters fine tuning. ... Our algorithm runs at an interactive frame rate (30 fps) and also enables stereoscopic vision. Additionally, a hardware implementation, which uses FPGAs, will be presented. The initial hardware configuration comprises an Atlys circuitboard manufactured by Digilent Inc., which is small enough to fit inside a large shirt pocket. The circuit board includes two HDMI camera inputs, one being used for the left eye, and the other for the right eye, as well as HDMI outputs fed back to the left and right eyes, after processing of the video signals. The circuit board facilitates processing by way of a Xilinx Spartan 6, model LX45 FPGA." The demonstration video is pretty cool, and you can read about the FPGA and details of the HDR algorithm in the research paper.
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Augmented HDR Vision For Welders (And Others)

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  • by j-stroy (640921) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @12:02PM (#41313199)
    It is an .MP4

    - you are now breathing deliberately -
  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @12:05PM (#41313223) Homepage Journal
    That is one bad-ass looking welding helmet!

    Being able to see what you're welding on is just a pleasant side effect.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Since TIG welding requires keen eyesight and exact hand-to-eye coordination (i.e. more skill and more visual acuity than most other welding processes),

    As a professional welder, I can tell you that TIG welding does not require the most skill. Traditional stick/rod welding requires much more skill and visual acuity. Stick welding feels like you are working in a strobe light with different light levels and sparks distracting you constantly. Stick welding is harder because the rod is constantly getting shorter and yet you need to maintain a constant distance from your work. TIG welding in many respects is much easier.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      While not a professional welder, only amateur, I would want to suggest that working conditions and material can impact that general rule.

      Some stuff sucks to weld, no matter the technology used.

    • From experience, I agree with this.
      I've used those "auto-shielding" "solar" masks, and they are quite an improvement since you can "aim" safely, but being able to see precisely what you are doing as you do the actual welding makes me fantasize working with this new hardware.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Learning TIG welding is a lot like learning to ride a motorcycle. There are more parts of your body involved, and they must all be doing different things simultaneously to make sure you get a good weld. You have your throttle (foot pedal), your clutch, (weak hand, filler rod), and your steering (torch distance from workpiece, moving the arc back and forth, and along the work) and you have to balance all of these things all at once to avoid crashing (touching the tungsten into your molten pool of metal), and

      • by tom17 (659054)

        Give me another couple of months (Saving up for my bottle of Argon) and I can test that theory out. I have never laid a weld in my life and once I have that gas bottle, I will be trying my hand at self-taught TIG welding :)

        I'm quietly confident that I will pick it up quickly.

        I have zero interest in stick welding either.

  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @12:17PM (#41313327)

    .... we could use an augmented vision system for our local Cadillac drivers. It would enable them to virtually see through their steering wheel, dashboard and engine compartment to view the road in front of them.

    • .... we could use an augmented vision system for our local Cadillac drivers. It would enable them to virtually see through their steering wheel, dashboard and engine compartment to view the road in front of them.

      You must live in Florida....

      • by PPH (736903)

        You must live in Florida....

        Near Bellevue, Washington. Its where all the Eastern Washington farmers go when they sell their land, take their cash and retire. Everyone seems to corner like they are hauling a trailer load of irrigation pipe behind a tractor as well. :-/

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @01:55PM (#41314447)
    As a welder I can say: Holy cats! I want that... Talk about making my life easier!
    • by Animats (122034)

      Agreed. I took a TIG welding class once, using a standard mask. It didn't go well. I may try again with an auto-darkening mask, so I can see what I'm doing at the start. (Modern welding masks have light detection and glass that is darkened electrically, so you can see what you're doing with the arc both on and off.)

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        Auto darkening helmets make about any kind of electrical welding easier to get going. I suggest getting one even if you are going to watch someone else weld. They are relatively cheap now (the same helmet/a comparable one I spend almost $200 on 10 years ago costs about $50 out the door now)

        Most of them have a dial that allows you to adjust the darkness a bit along with the delay and so on, so they are useful for different types of welding too. Just make sure that if you get one, that you can get the

      • I have both kinds of masks. To use the old, non-automatic, you simply have the helmet up, position your gun, don't move... flip the helmet down, and start. If you get a bright shoplight and shine it on your work, you can see it ...sorta... through the glass before you start. At least well enough to get your position. The auto dark helmets can be had for as low as $50 now http://www.harborfreight.com/adjustable-shade-auto-darkening-welding-helmet-46092.html

        I've even seen that one on sale for $40. It's the sa
  • by Malluck (413074) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @03:12PM (#41315547)

    I really like seeing applications for image fusion like this. I think we'll see more of them in the future given how cheap HD cameras and FPGA are becoming. There's no reason why I couldn't take an array of cameras with different filters and fuse the outputs together into a single image. It's better than the Preditor-Alien vision (no cycling required)!

    Take these guys for instance. They're fusing thermal and visible cameras outputs together in realtime.
    http://imagizellc.com/html/applications/fusion.html

    How long do you think it will be before all of done on a single sensor die?

  • by triffid_98 (899609) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @04:45PM (#41316743)
    TIG is certainly a lot more difficult than SMAW, (stick or MIG), but I'd consider OA the most difficult, depending on what you're doing with it. TIG welds, OA does all kinds of crazy stuff.

    flame shrinking, flame bending, heating, brazing, hard facing, soldering, cutting, etc...AND welding

    That said, hardly anyone (professionally) uses OA for much besides cutting and brazing and you generally don't need a strong shade to do it so visibility is already pretty good.
    • by sumdumass (711423)

      I think this might be a misnomer. Tig is more difficult than SMAW because you have more controls to muck about with, but it's kind of like driving a bicycle or a car. Once you get the hang of it, it's pretty damn simple (note, I'm not a professions welder and have no clue if my welds would pass any certifications but few of them fail to hold when I need them to).

      I agree on the oxy acetylene completely though.

  • I Like This... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IonOtter (629215) on Wednesday September 12, 2012 @06:15PM (#41317753) Homepage

    I took a welding class in college as an elective for my degree, and it was an excellent idea. I've used it a few times, and it served me quite well.

    That said, this is awesome! I haven't had the pleasure of using an auto-darkening helmet yet, but I can already see the appeal of this device.

    With an ADH, you go from normal vision to "dark vision". You can see the material, the rod and the weld, but nothing else around you. You are effectively oblivious to anything else around you, such as your sparks setting something nearby on fire, or someone coming up behind you. This means you have to stop periodically and check your surroundings.

    With this helmet, you have all of that, plus "normal" vision, and can now see everything around you. You'll have greater awareness of your work, and more importantly, you'll be able to see when someone-or something-is coming up behind you. In the construction business, this is a very necessary thing.

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