Monday, January 21, 2008


VISION 2007 and its new venue reveal the perils and the glory of machine-vision exhibitions
VISION 2007, held in Stuttgart, Germany, 6–8 November 2007, will be remembered as the largest, most impressive machine-vision show in the world by most attendees. Certainly, the nearly 300 exhibitors, a record visitor turnout, and a brand new location were cause for celebration. But not by all those who attended the show. One man fell head first down one of the escalators that linked the two halls where exhibitors demonstrated the latest hardware and software products. Another performed a rather large incision on his leg while attempting to open one of the packages he had shipped to the show. He was hospitalized.

And then, of course, there was yours truly. After the first day of the show, pounding along the uncarpeted concrete of the show halls, my right leg decided it had had enough. Back at the hotel, my right knee became rather large, probably due to an injury sustained while running after a young lady outside a fish-and-chip shop in England when I was 18 years old. After a 3 a.m. (0300 h) visit to the local “Krankenhaus” to see Dr. Schnuck, I was prescribed Ibuprofin. The doctor also thought that a certain amount of “foot tapping” exercise might be beneficial. It wasn’t quite what I had expected after paying out €137.94.

Michael Moore, of Sicko fame, is no longer one of my favorite film directors. For the next two days, I was confined to a wheelchair where I discovered the benefits and short falls of being temporarily handicapped in a foreign country. These benefits included high-speed traversing of the trade show, the lack of a need for excuses for being tardy for appointments, and the large amount of sympathy heaped upon me by my associates in the machine-vision community.

Unfortunately, especially for those in wheelchairs, the handicapped bathrooms on all the floors of the “Neue Messe” were locked. As you can imagine, a 50-something journalist hobbling into a bathroom in Germany and performing “foot-tapping” exercises was out of the question.

Despite my condition, I did manage to visit a large number of companies that exhibited in the two vast halls that comprised VISION 2007. For those of you that could not attend, let me describe the show.

The first hall was replete with rather smaller booths and newer, less-established companies that exhibited some very interesting technologies and applications. Many of these you can read about in this issue.

In the larger hall, many established companies seemed to be playing a booth game of “mine is bigger than yours.” Some, with really nothing new to introduce, had purchased voluminous booths with which to impress the attendees. In fact, some of these booths were so large that one felt lost in a “booth canyon” trying to see any other companies exhibiting. According to a spokesperson for the Messe, this will change next year when the show is moved into another hall the size of five baseball fields.

On the last day of the show, after receiving a rather long lecture about caring for myself from my publisher, Kathy Bush, it was time to leave. To do so, the trusty chariot that I had ridden for two days needed to be returned to the organizers. Before securing my wheelchair, my boss, Conard Holton, had left his American driving license as a “deposit.” Unfortunately, upon returning the chair, he found that the organizers had assumed that since it had not been returned on the first day, it had been stolen. Luckily, other members of our organization speak German. Otherwise, it seems, my boss would have been imprisoned for theft. Although some of you may think that hospital or prison is the best place for editors of trade magazines such as this, my publisher, like Queen Victoria, was not amused.

Hopefully, next year VISION 2008 will feature lushly carpeted hallways, bathrooms that open, and less bureaucratic staff. Other than that, VISION 2007 can only be rated 10/10 by this reviewer.

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