Computer Vision: From science fiction to reality

During the past several years, we are witnessing the rapid growth of computer vision technologies from a research area to widely used technology that has the potential to dramatically alter our lives both in terms of productivity and improved living standards. But how you may ask? Well if the answer is not that apparent then you can look no further than Hollywood! Indeed big blockbuster movies like Star Wars, Terminator, and Star Trek offer a glimpse into the future into what our lives can be with the adoption and increasing use of real-time computer vision technologies. But in what ways can computer vision improve different aspects of our lives?

Cars that drive themselves … and fight crime!

KITT an artificially intelligent crime fighting car appeared in the 1982 TV Series Knight Rider. The car had multiple high-tech features that even today have not yet been realized. These include advanced computer AI, speech and emotion recognition and advanced computer vision. Visual information processing was a key way in which KITT was able to interact with its environment and the people in it. Hence, KITT was able to perform many computer vision tasks such as detect people and vehicles and track their movements and discern proximity but also to map visual information by gathering structural schematics of buildings, vehicles, or other devices and avoid potential danger and obstacles.

New Friends … or Foes

Robotics and artificial machines has been at the heart of many books, movies, and TV Series across the years. It is a concept that excites many scientists, engineers, and futurists. Though at present we are not at a stage where we can built a T-800 Model (Terminator) recent attempts such as Honda’s ASIMO has advanced features such as visual scene recognition, gesture recognition, and face recognition. The robot can also detect movements of multiple objects, such as hands in order to perform handshakes. Even though the aforementioned features sound impressive there is still some way to go towards fully automated and seemless integration of visual capabilities into humanoid robots.

Super Vision Enhancements

Advanced computer vision cannot also be used to engineer machines that see but also to enhance the vision of humans as well. One version of such a device is present in the movie Iron Man. Such a helmet offers enhancements that can improve visual perception such as advanced automated target detection and tracking, target path planning and prediction, the ability to visually zoom to the microscopic level, night and thermal vision. An early version of this concept has started to emerge in the shape of Google Glasses! Though still in the early stages of its lifetime such devices have enormous potential and promise to improve our day-to-day lifestyle.

PhD in Computer Engineering, Self-Driving Car Engineering Nanodegree, Computer Vision, Visual Perception and Computing

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