In 1986 Werner Armingeon and Gerhard Thullner founded Matris Datensysteme GmbH. This was the foundation for an agile company, which quickly adapts to new market conditions and at the same time helps to shape the market of industrial machine vision.
The early days (1986 – 1987)
On June 24,1986 in Oppenweiler Gerhard Thullner and Werner Armingeon set up Matris Datensysteme GmbH. The focus is on developing the firmware of atom absorption spectrometers.
Step into the Atari world (1987 – 1990)
In 1987 the first Ataris are purchased and printed circuit board layouts are realized. A CPU upgrade board with Motorola MC68020 microprocessors for Atari Mega ST is etched and drilled in house.
In 1988 Mac and PC users already have the option to connect larger screens. With Ataris this is not yet possible as Atari do not want to develop the necessary graphics controllers. This gap is recognized by Matris. Under the new company name Matrix Datensysteme, in 1988 the company develops a graphics controllers for a 19" screen for Atari computers in just six weeks.
On March 8, 1989 at CeBIT: Graphics controllers and screens cause a sensation. Matrix establishes itself as a graphics pioneer and becomes the global market leader for Atari graphics cards. In the same year the first company building is purchased on Talstrasse 16 in Oppenweiler.
In 1990 the first frame grabber follows for Atari with ScreenEye.
Realignment (1990 -1998)
Shortly after Matrix launched the frame grabbers for Atari, Atari withdraws from the professional PC business, which causes a collapse of the computer hardware for MATRIX. A change to PC graphics cards is not considered as the market is already characterized by a major price war.
Instead in 1992 the change to the market of industrial machine vision is completed with the first ISA frame grabber PCgrab. The realignment is also emphasized by a renaming of the company to "MATRIX VISION Bildverarbeitung GmbH". Over time the PC interfaces become faster and PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect) comes on the market. In 1995 MATRIX VISION presents the appropriate frame grabber: PCimage. The last version of this card is to be discontinued in 2013.
The company grows and thus also the management. In 1996 the two founders Gerhard Thullner and Werner Armingeon appoint a third managing director: Uwe Furtner.
In 1997 the product portfolio of the multistandard frame grabber is extended with mvSIGMA and mvDELTA. Video sources according to the standards PAL, NTSC, and SECAM are supported.
With the right products MATRIX VISION is able to grow steadily, to the extent that the office space is fully utilized in 1997. An extension creates more space and in 1998 the new premises can be acquired.
The first industrial cameras (1999 – 2003)
As one of the first manufacturers, MATRIX VISION launches an intelligent, PC-compatible camera in 1999. Intelligent means that camera, PC, and frame grabber are in a single housing. The development of the mvCAM was the starting point for the comprehensive know-how and expertise of MATRIX VISION in the area of intelligent cameras.
In 2001 MATRIX VISION releases the first version of the comprehensive machine vision library mvIMPACT. The basic functions are free in conjunction with MATRIX VISION hardware. Other modules can be licensed if needed.
In the same year the frame grabber line mvTITAN is extended with a CameraLink version. The high-performance image processor is an elementary component of the mvTITAN range. This is also the case with the mvTITAN-CL – the version for CameraLink cameras. The mvTITAN-CL supports both line and area scan cameras and impresses with preprocessing algorithms, which relieve the host system.
In 2002 MATRIX VISION expands its know-how in the area of intelligent cameras and releases its first embedded camera based on Linux with the mvSENSOR. This camera creates the foundation for the mvBlueLYNX, which is a starting point for many customized solutions and is only discontinued after 13 years.
New interfaces, new opportunities (2004 – 2007)
The triumph of USB 2.0 opens up new opportunities. With the mvBlueFOX, MATRIX VISION launches the appropriate industrial camera in 2004. In tow: the new, object-oriented software interface mvIMPACT Acquire SDK.
The PCI interface is also further enhanced: the new slot generations PCI Express offer wider bandwidths. For PCI Express the company develops the next generation of the frame grabbers: mvSIGMA-SQe – a multistandard frame grabber that offers 4 parallel video inputs.
After Gigabit Ethernet also establishes itself as a standard interface in machine vision, in 2006 a new industrial camera range is launched with the mvBlueCOUGAR.
In the meantime MATRIX VISION develops a camera for the German deposit system within five months, including lighting and mechanics, and becomes market leader for vision solutions in reverse vending machines.
In October 2006 the certification in accordance with DIN EN ISO 9001 follows. The auditors are impressed by the digital ISO manual, among other things.
The company building, in which the company founders Gerhard Thullner and Werner Armingeon got to know each other, is purchased by MATRIX VISION in 2007 and converted into the development center. From then on MATRIX VISION has two sites in Oppenweiler: the G1 administration building on Talstrasse 16 and the G2 development center on Murrwiesenstrasse 18.
Standards are called for (2008 - 2014)
The consumer interfaces make one thing clear - standards are needed for the machine vision market. With GenICam, GigE Vision, and USB3 Vision, there are successful machine vision standards on the market. Since 2008 MATRIX VISION has been an active and important architect on the standard committees.
Small, uncompromising, and full range of functions – for OEM customers MATRIX VISION develops a board camera with USB interface in 2010. The mvBlueFOX-MLC offers an image memory, digital inputs and outputs, as well as a micro-PLC sequencer – all features that you look for in other cameras in the same price category.
In 2011 Erhard Meier is appointed Commercial Director
The camera series based on GigE Vision is extended by another model. In line with the motto "Double cross-linking runs better", the new mvBlueCOUGAR-XD has two bundled Gigabit Ethernet lines. The camera is suitable for sensors with higher resolutions and frame rates.
Feb. 2012 - With more performance per watt and volume, the new ARM-Cortex processors show what performance is possible. In 2012 the new mvBlueLYNX-X with a power consumption of less than 5 watt offers a 1 GHz processor, 800 MHz DSP, a large main memory, and numerous interfaces – designed for a variety of applications, some of which are sustainable.
Also the consumer interface USB receives a successor with USB 3.0 and increases the bandwidth tenfold compared to the predecessor. In 2013 MATRIX VISION introduces a USB 3.0 industrial camera with the mvBlueFOX3, which is equipped with high-resolution and fast CMOS sensors.
In 2014 the founders Gerhard Thullner and Werner Armingeon retire from the operational business of MATRIX VISION GmbH.
Not only intelligent, smart too (2015 – 2016)
In 2015 the mvBlueGEMINI smart camera comes on the market. The wizards behind the mvBlueGEMINI create the possibility of creating applications without programming. Even machine vision knowledge is not necessarily required because the smart camera looks for the appropriate algorithms and even determines the appropriate parameters.
MATRIX VISION also gains first-hand experience in the development of 3D industrial cameras, based on 6D technology.
Two become one (2017 – 2019)
In 2017 MATRIX VISION GmbH becomes part of the sensor and automation specialist Balluff with its head office in Neuhausen auf den Fildern. MATRIX VISION continues to act independently in the machine vision area with an unmodified brand. As part of the Balluff Group, MATRIX VISION can better serve the growing machine vision market in the future and also on an international level. The successful integration of the company in the Balluff Group is managed to a considerable degree by Tobias Thullner on the MATRIX VISION side.
In the same year the company receives two awards for the twin concept from the "mvBlueGEMINI" smart camera and the "mvIMPACT Configuration Studio" software: the 2017 Innovation Award of the state of Baden-Württemberg and the "100 places for Industry 4.0 in Baden-Württemberg" award. The latter acknowledges innovative concepts that make a considerable contribution to digital networking within the framework of Industry 4.0. The twin concept from the mvBlueGEMINI smart camera and the smart mvIMPACT-CS vision software enables MATRIX VISION to allow companies without programming know-how and machine vision knowledge to enter the digitally networked, optical quality control.
2018 sees a change to management: Erhard Meier leaves the company and Ralf Grasmann assumes the role of Division Manager for Sales, Marketing, & Supply Chain. Grasmann previously worked as an international sales manager at Balluff GmbH for 10 years. The appointment of Ralf Grasmann to management brings the two companies Balluff and MATRIX VISION closer together. Tobias Thullner is also appointed to management. He has been involved in the decision-making and management processes of management since 2014. Since then he has been responsible for the Finance & Administration segments.
Strong for the future (2020 – today)
Uwe Furtner leaves the company at the end of 2019 to seek new challenges. His successor Uwe Hagmaier is appointed to management. Uwe Hagmaier has been with the company for over 27 years and has already occupied a variety of management roles in the development area.
In 2020 MATRIX VISION continues to grow despite the corona crisis. The development team is expanded and two sites become operational. In Hamburg a development center is built in the historic Chilehaus (Chile House) office building. And as production in Oppenweiler is bursting at the seams, another production site is opened in Kirchheim am Neckar.