Cognex Corporation
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Cognex Corporation is an American manufacturer of
machine vision Machine vision (MV) is the technology and methods used to provide imaging-based automatic inspection and analysis for such applications as automatic inspection, process control, and robot guidance, usually in industry. Machine vision refers to m ...
systems, software and sensors used in automated manufacturing to inspect and identify parts, detect defects, verify product assembly, and guide assembly robots. Cognex is headquartered in
Natick, Massachusetts Natick ( ) is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. It is near the center of the MetroWest region of Massachusetts, with a population of 37,006 at the 2020 census. west of Boston, Natick is part of the Greater Boston area. ...
, USA and has offices in more than 20 countries. Cognex began exploring commercial applications of machine vision in the early 1980s. In the 1990s, Cognex’s business grew due to a demand for machine vision tools to help automate
semiconductor A semiconductor is a material which has an electrical resistivity and conductivity, electrical conductivity value falling between that of a electrical conductor, conductor, such as copper, and an insulator (electricity), insulator, such as glas ...
and electronics manufacturing. While semiconductor manufacturing remains an important market for Cognex, it has expanded to general manufacturing applications. The company’s product portfolio includes In-Sight, VisionPro software, and DataMan.


History

Cognex Corporation was founded in 1981 by
Robert J. Shillman Robert "Bob" Shillman (born April 6, 1946 in Boston, Massachusetts, United States) is founder, chairman and CCO (Chief Culture Officer) of Cognex Corporation. Cognex is a provider of machine vision systems, sensors, and industrial ID readers us ...
, a lecturer in human visual perception at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private land-grant research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Established in 1861, MIT has played a key role in the development of modern technology and science, and is one of the ...
, and two MIT graduate students, Bill Silver and Marilyn Matz. Cognex stands for "Cognition Experts." The company's first vision system, DataMan, was introduced in 1982. DataMan was an
optical character recognition Optical character recognition or optical character reader (OCR) is the electronic or mechanical conversion of images of typed, handwritten or printed text into machine-encoded text, whether from a scanned document, a photo of a document, a scen ...
(OCR) system designed to read, verify, and assure the quality of letters, numbers, and symbols printed on products and components. The company's first customer was a typewriter manufacturer that purchased DataMan to read letters on typewriter keys and ensure that they were located in the correct position. In 1989, Cognex went public on the
NASDAQ The Nasdaq Stock Market () (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations Stock Market) is an American stock exchange based in New York City. It is the most active stock trading venue in the US by volume, and ranked second ...
exchange for $1.38 per share—within a year, the stock price had tripled. In 1995, Cognex purchased Acumen, a U.S. based developer of wafer identification systems. In 2004, the company won an
intellectual property Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual property, and some countries recognize more than others. The best-known types are patents, cop ...
victory when a federal judge ruled in Cognex's favor in a patent lawsuit brought against the estate of the inventor
Jerome H. Lemelson Jerome "Jerry" Hal Lemelson (July 18, 1923 – October 1, 1997) was an American engineer, inventor, and patent holder. Several of his inventions and works in the fields in which he patented have made possible, either wholly or in part, innovatio ...
, who had filed dozens of
submarine patent A submarine patent is a patent whose issuance and publication are intentionally delayed by the applicant for a long time, which can be several years, or a decade.
s, some of which purported to cover machine vision processes. The machine vision-related patents were held invalid. The ruling was upheld by the
Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (in case citations, Fed. Cir. or C.A.F.C.) is a United States court of appeals that has special appellate jurisdiction over certain types of specialized cases in the U.S. federal court ...
. Cognex sold off its in-vehicle product in 2007, citing concerns about profitability and intellectual property issue

In 2015 Cognex sold off its Surface Vision Division and the associated range of products SmartView (web inspection), Vision Gear (slit inspection), Smart Advisor (process surveillance, web monitoring) and VisionPro Surface to Ametek Inc. for approximately 160M US$. The sold division represented about 12% of Cognex in terms of revenue and number of employees. In April 2017 Cognex acquired ViDi Systems, a Swiss-based provider of
deep learning Deep learning (also known as deep structured learning) is part of a broader family of machine learning methods based on artificial neural networks with representation learning. Learning can be supervised, semi-supervised or unsupervised. De ...
software for industrial machine vision applications. In October 2019 Cognex acquired Sualab, a Korean-based developer of vision software using
deep learning Deep learning (also known as deep structured learning) is part of a broader family of machine learning methods based on artificial neural networks with representation learning. Learning can be supervised, semi-supervised or unsupervised. De ...
for industrial applications. During summer 2020 Cognex laid off 8% of its headcount (190 employees)

In December 2020 Cognex announced payment of $2 dividend per share. In the press release explaining this special dividend the chairman,
Robert J. Shillman Robert "Bob" Shillman (born April 6, 1946 in Boston, Massachusetts, United States) is founder, chairman and CCO (Chief Culture Officer) of Cognex Corporation. Cognex is a provider of machine vision systems, sensors, and industrial ID readers us ...
, referred to one of the company's mottos, to explain the highest dividend paid out in the company's history. This motto being: “When Cognex wins, we all win”. On February 11, 2021, Cognex announced the resignation of Robert Shillman from the company's board of directors and as an executive officer of Cognex, effective May 5, 2021.


Products

Some of the products produced by Cognex are: * In-Sight - a vision system that combines a camera, software and processor into one compact unit. In April 2020, Cognex introduced the In-Sight D900 embedded vision system, which features
deep learning Deep learning (also known as deep structured learning) is part of a broader family of machine learning methods based on artificial neural networks with representation learning. Learning can be supervised, semi-supervised or unsupervised. De ...
software inside an In-Sight industrial-grade smart camera. The system is designed to solve complex in-line inspection applications including
optical character recognition Optical character recognition or optical character reader (OCR) is the electronic or mechanical conversion of images of typed, handwritten or printed text into machine-encoded text, whether from a scanned document, a photo of a document, a scen ...
(OCR), assembly verification, and defect detection. * VisionPro vision software. * DataMan - a family of fixed mount and handheld ID readers used to identify and track items by reading 1D and 2D Data Matrix codes. * 3D Sensors


References


External links


Official website
{{Coord, 42.30213, N, 71.35534, W, region:US_type:landmark, display=title Commercial computer vision systems Graphics hardware companies Manufacturing companies based in Massachusetts Companies listed on the Nasdaq Companies based in Natick, Massachusetts 1980s initial public offerings Electronics companies established in 1981