A Solid State plc group company

Providing advanced imaging products, embedded systems and solutions

colored casino chips falling onto a roulette table

The entertaining side of machine vision

October 19, 2021

Machine vision doesn’t just have to be used to advance industrial processes, the automation it enables can benefit multiple applications. For example, we provided a customized vision system solution for a long-standing client operating in the global gaming sector.

Our solution was developed to meet the growing demand in automation within casinos. The technology enables quick and efficient sorting of chips at a roulette table without requiring any manual input from the croupier.

Roulette games typically include up to 8 players, each using a different color chip to place their bets. Casinos implement a range of minimum bet conditions – anything from £1 up to many thousands, and will assign the value to their chips accordingly and often use complex graphic symbols. The challenge our customer presented to us was to automate the process of sorting chips after each spin of the wheel, relieving casino staff from monotonous manual sorting.

However, the electronics for this had to be cost-effective, as casino operators weren’t willing to swallow a hike in the price of table gaming solutions.  It needed to be a highly reliable inspection machine that could operate 24/7, guaranteed a long product life, required very low maintenance and could be manufactured in volume.

Meeting the challenge

The resulting chip sorter that Active Silicon developed consists of three elements: the Main Computer Unit (MCU), the camera and lighting unit and the control panel, or user interface. Suitable cables are also supplied. Additionally, we assisted with the initial mechanical elements, including the casing.

TC06 Main Computer Unit

TC06 Main Computer Unit

As existing algorithms required high (and expensive) processing power, our experts developed a new algorithm, based on 3D color histograms. This recognizes the different chips and can accommodate varying chip conditions, such as dirt build-up. The combined software and mechanics now allows a sort rate of 500 chips per minute, increasing game productivity by up to 20%.

The VC2 camera unit with LED lights uses a board camera and xenon strobing to image the chips on a moving belt. The image data is then fed into the TC06 MCU which uses the proprietary algorithm to identify colors and sort chips into columns, ready to be dealt 20 chips at a time. The embedded mezzanine computer unit runs on an ETX processor, while future units will run on an ARM system.

VC2 Camera Unit

VC2 Camera Unit

As well as sorting the chips, other data is also collected including players’ betting habits and movements through the casino (linking to Player Tracking Systems) plus how many games per hour occur at each table and other useful statistical data. The sorter proved hugely successful and we’ve now manufactured around 10,000 units.

Innovative engineering

The technology is well-suited to other applications such as coin sorting, or could be adapted to uses such as food processing which also rely on sorting by color.

The chip sorter is one example where Active Silicon’s engineering team could offer a full solution including design, camera and computer hardware, mechanical elements, as well as the user software and a custom sorting algorithm.

For thirty years, our innovative team have been releasing and customizing industry-leading products. Contact us to find out more about our exceptional expertise.