Before you take that next bite, thank QNX

Trust. It’s a simple word. But without trust, the world would come to a grinding halt.

Just imagine getting into your car if you couldn't trust it to get you home in one piece. Or asking a friend for advice if you couldn't trust him to keep a secret. Or sitting down to dinner if you couldn't trust that the food in front of you is safe to eat.

The food supply, in particular, enjoys a immense amount of public trust. After all, when's the last time you hesitated biting into a jelly donut, fearing it might contain stray bits of plastic? If you're like me, probably never. (Which could explain why I wolfed down three donuts before lunch this morning.)

Kidding aside, making food safe enough to earn this trust isn’t easy. Companies in the food industry must remain diligent at every stage of the preparation and production process — and that diligence must continue even after food has been packaged.

Enter the QNX-based RAYCON product inspection system. Using X-Ray technology, this system can scan packaged food and detect a variety of potential contaminants — everything from metal and glass to ceramics, stones, raw bones, PVC, rubber, and plastics. For instance, in the following image, the RAYCOM system has detected metal and glass contaminants in a bag of dates:

The principle behind the RAYCOM system is simple: Many contaminants absorb X-Rays to a higher or lower degree than the surrounding product. If the RAYCOM system detects an anomalous level of X-Ray absorption, it sounds the alarm.

Mind you, the system isn’t restricted to identifying contaminants. It can also detect deformed or broken food products. It can even detect whether ingredients are missing, such as jelly in a jelly donut. Good, that.

Using the QNX realtime OS, the RAYCON system can inspect up to 600 pieces per minute. According to the RAYCON website, the QNX OS offers several advantages, such as eliminating the need for hard drives and UPS systems, and allowing product inspection tasks to leverage the full capacity of the CPU.

For me, one of the coolest features is the system’s “auto-train” mode. To train the system’s software to recognize a good product, you pass a known, perfect product sample through the machine. The software then uses that sample as a template and will reject any product that deviates from the template.

Another cool feature: The system can inspect multiple types of product in parallel, even if individual items are misaligned:

To learn more about this system, visit the RAYCOM website.

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