|Traded as||NASDAQ: CGNX|
|Industry||Industrial automation (hardware and software)|
|Headquarters||Natick, Massachusetts, USA|
|Key people||Dr. Robert J. Shillman, Founder, Chairman and Chief Culture Officer; Robert Willett, President and CEO; Richard A. Morin, Executive VP and CFO|
|Products||Vision Systems, Vision Sensors, Vision Software, ID readers and surface inspection systems|
|Revenue||$324 million USD (2012)|
Cognex Corporation is a manufacturer of machine vision 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, USA. It has offices in more than 20 countries.
Cognex was one of the first companies to explore commercial applications for machine vision in the early 1980s. In the 1990s, Cognex’s business grew rapidly due to the demand for machine vision tools to help automate semiconductor and electronics manufacturing. While semiconductor manufacturing remains an important market for Cognex vision, today the company receives a greater portion of its revenue from general manufacturing applications in areas such as pharmaceutical, automotive, healthcare, packaging, aerospace and consumer products manufacturing.
The company’s product portfolio includes In-Sight, a vision system that combines a camera, software and processor into one compact unit; VisionPro vision software; Checker, a single-purpose vision sensor used to provide high performance at certain common vision tasks, such as checking for the presence or absence of parts and features; DataMan, a family of fixed mount and handheld ID readers used to identify and track items by reading 1D and 2D Data Matrix codes; and SmartView, a vision system used to detect defects in materials such as metal, paper, and nonwovens that are manufactured at high speeds on a web.
Cognex Corporation was founded in 1981 by Dr. Robert J. Shillman, a lecturer in human visual perception at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 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 (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 1995, Cognex made the first of many acquisitions when it purchased Acumen, a U.S. based developer of wafer identification systems. Acquisitions have played an important role in the company’s growth and enabled Cognex to enter new markets for machine vision such as surface inspection and vehicle vision.
In 2004, the company won an intellectual property victory when a federal judge ruled in Cognex's favor in a patent lawsuit brought against the estate of the inventor Jerome H. Lemelson, who had filed dozens of submarine patents, some of which purported to cover machine vision processes. The patents were held invalid. The ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Cognex sold off its in-vehicle product in 2007, citing concerns about profitability and intellectual property issues.
- "Cognex - Company History". Cognex. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
- http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/discoveries/2005-08-21-lemelson-fraud_x.htm Some claim inventor Lemelson a fraud, Adam Goldman, The Associated Press, 2005
- United States District Court District of Nevada CV-S-01-701-PMP, January 23, 2004
- http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aOmqPqs3330E&refer=us. U.S. Judge Invalidates Billion-Dollar Scan Patents ,Bloomberg
- http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/02/business/patents-shown-recent-cases-argued-courts-properly-crediting-inventor-can-be.html Patents; As shown by recent cases argued in the courts, properly crediting an inventor can be murky business., New York Times
- United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, 04-1451, Symbol Technologies, Inc. et al. v. Lemelson Medical, Education & Research Foundation, LP, September 9, 2005