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Settings are those parameters that configure the Aphelion Dev software for control of the image acquisition system being used, calibration of measurements for real-world units, and storage location of user data files. Centralized control of these parameters facilitates the user making system changes.
Aphelion Dev supports any imager compliant with the IIDC specification for an IEEE 1394 bus 1 (i.e., FireWire® compatible) as well as imagers using the DirectShow® interface protocol (e.g., webcams and Gigabit Ethernet® cameras supporting this protocol). Dev captures an imager's parameters via the FireWire® connection, and saves them as a profile for the imager.
Dev's image acquisition process is easy to use. Select the camera mode (i.e., image size and frame rate), define the exposure parameters, click the GUI's "Live" button to display a live image, focus the camera, apply a shading correction to get an even background, and then click the "Snap" button to capture the image. Images previously captured and stored on media can also be processed and analyzed with Dev. With the 64-bit version of Dev, very large images (e.g., from a scanner microscope or scanning electron microscope) can be acquired and processed, thus providing high throughput imaging.
Aphelion Dev provides two methods to extract objects of interest from an image. One method uses the Developer Task to extract objects from complex images or to fully automate the extraction process. Dev includes a large set of extraction functions, from basic to very advanced. The second method uses Dev's Object Extraction Task, a semi-automated process that guides the user through three steps: color band selection, automatic or interactive thresholding, and object filtering to further refine the extraction.
The Object Editing task provides tools for modifying the set of objects that were extracted. Altering or removing existing objects and drawing new objects can be easily performed using mouse operations. An undo function is always available to go back to the previous step of the editing process. The combination of the Object Extraction and Editing tasks enables a user to achieve an optimal segmentation of an image regardless of its complexity.
The Developer task is Aphelion Dev's primary tool for developing and deploying sophisticated, image-based applications. It provides hundreds of image and ObjectSet functions to enhance, restore, and filter images; extract objects such as blobs, chains, and lines; and transform, group, analyze, and classify objects. These can be applied to an entire image or to multiple regions of interest of any size and shape. Developer's functions are all available from drop-down menus. When a function is selected, Dev provides a dialog box that enables easy entry and full control of the function's parameters. Specialized dialog boxes facilitate entry of complex parameters (e.g., kernels). Once its parameters are entered, the function can be executed with a mouse click and results immediately viewed.
To create and automate complex image processing and analysis applications, Dev's functions can be combined using a macro language accessible without leaving the Dev GUI. Four macro command languages are supported: BasicScript®, an easy to use scripting language, Python®, Visual C#® , and Visual Basic®. Debugging tools and a macro recorder2 are provided to aid in program development.
In addition to the comprehensive function libraries for image and object processing and measurement, programmers will appreciate the extensive set of utility functions included in Dev. These provide for image and data management, display controls, graphics handling, and support for many image formats. All Dev functions are fully documented with detailed descriptions of properties and methods, and with coding examples.
The Developer task has been designed for application development in virtually any image domain. It is especially well-suited for applications in the fields of biology, microscopy, materials science, quality control, and remote sensing.
The final step of a typical image analysis project is to generate a report of the results obtained from the analysis. In the past, this was often done by using multiple software products, requiring multiple data exchange steps between the various products. With Aphelion Dev, generating a report can be done in only two steps: 1.) Specify the data needed (i.e., measurement grid and image with or without its objects overlay); and 2.) Specify an Excel® template to use for the report. The user can choose from any previously provided template or create a new one. Alternatively, the Report Generator can export the grid values to a text file in CSV format or export the image and overlay to the Windows® clip board.