Do you use Face ID or a similar feature to unlock your phone? When shopping online, do you use an app to digitally “try on” an item of clothing or visualize if a piece of furniture looks good in your living room? Do you use filters on Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat to turn yourself into a dog, rabbit, or cat?
If you do, welcome to the world of computer vision. In this post, we’ll examine a few computer vision applications and how they’ve been changing our lives.
What is Computer Vision?
Computer vision is a field of study that deals with how computers take in and understand visual information for further analysis and decision-making purposes. In simpler terms, the segment focuses on developing the way computers “see” objects from either real-world situations or digital images and video footage.
Computer vision is analogous to how humans see and process images, albeit less advanced. When we see pictures or events unfold, we make associations, perhaps to a funny scene in a movie or a distant memory. Computer vision works similarly. It is also akin to a human being’s photographic memory, in that, it can recognize a thing seen from previous inputs.
However, there is a stark difference between how humans and computers form, identify, and recall images. While we tend to remember scenes by using so-called “frames” or “tableaus,” computer vision pieces together “pixels” or fragments of an image like a jigsaw puzzle, based on thousands of images fed to the system.
The medium used to record visual data for computer vision may vary. It can be a smartphone camera, a closed-circuit television camera (CCTV), or a webcam. Meanwhile, a database of images can also serve as a resource for training a neural network to improve its computer vision.
This video explains how computer vision works in more detail.
Computer Vision Applications
Computer vision has a wide variety of uses. Whether you’re catching Pokemons or seeing a much more reader-friendly social media feed, computer vision is likely involved one way or another. Below are some computer vision applications that you’ve probably encountered in your life without knowing it.
American food processor Tyson Foods, Inc. made news recently for its deployment of a computer-vision-enabled inventory tracking system at its poultry-packaging facility. The system is capable of reading packaging and weight information, thus streamlining real-time inventory tracking for the company.
2. Social Media
Various machine learning (ML)-powered software such as Clarifai and Content Moderator use computer vision to filter sensitive content for clients. These include content published on social media sites.
3. Augmented Reality (AR)
Computer vision is used mainly in AR-enabled apps to find real-world anchors for object overlays. It allows ML algorithms in virtual reality (VR) equipment to detect planes for the placement of 3D objects in a scene.
4. Public Transportation
Computer vision has practical applications in ensuring driver and pedestrian safety and efficient traffic monitoring. Airlines and several smart cities across the globe have been implementing computer vision for a few years now. Research and development projects aimed at improving transport systems and road infrastructure in Europe with computer vision are also underway.
Computer vision allows doctors to recognize specific conditions and recommend treatments promptly. For instance, computer-vision-assisted programs fed with thousands of medical imaging data can help specialists detect anomalies in scans and prevent patients from suffering from a stroke or a particular type of cancer.
These are just some computer vision applications that are making our lives better. The technology is far from ideal, but with ongoing work from researchers and computer scientists, we should expect a better iteration of computer vision software and equipment soon.