What is computer vision? What are its applications?

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What is computer vision? What are its applications?

Summary: Computer vision is fast advancing technology, that plays a crucial part in Artificial Intelligence. You need to enhance your knowledge of basic image/ video processing algorithms to understand how computer vision works. And developing projects on them is a great way to get skilled on the technology. Building projects can be very challenging on computer vision, but it is not very difficult due to the recent technological advancements and resources available.

Here are some of the latest computer vision based projects you can build:

  1. Computer Vision based Mouse
  2. Computer Vision based Text Scanner
  3. Computer Vision based Smart Selfie
  4. Surveillance Robot
  5. Sixth Sense Robot
Read more..

Due to the advancements in new technologies, our lives are changing for the better as we see it. And a huge part of credits belongs to Artificial Intelligence and the wonders it is creating.

What was once only in our imagination is now a living reality. Be it super cool robots in the sci-fi movies or the awesome games that now you can be a part of, literally, because of virtual/augmented reality.

Artificial Intelligence being rather new, has been already affecting our decision making and lifestyle on a daily basis.

AI is now a part of every multi-billion-dollar company to every household. Whether you’re on your smartphones spending time on social media, or buying online products, listening to music or using navigation, AI is impacting our lives in enormous ways without us even realizing it.

And computer vision is fast advancing technology, that plays a crucial part in Artificial Intelligence. They basically go hand in hand.

Have you ever wondered how the bar code reader at your local mall worked? How does a simple device scan a bunch of black and white stripes and automatically input the price on to the computer?

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Or surprised with how smartphones of today can automatically click a selfie when you look your best?

Well, that is computer vision for you.

If you're curious about this topic and have questions related to its applications and skills required to pursue it, you're in the right place!

This article is going to cover all your queries and at the end of it, you’ll also look at some trendy, exciting computer vision based projects that you can try at your home.

So, let’s get started.

What is computer vision?

Computer vision is basically an interdisciplinary field that deals with how computers can be made to gain a high-level understanding from digital images or videos.

With computer vision, your computer can extract, analyze and understand useful information from an individual image or a sequence of images. Computer vision is a field of artificial intelligence that works on enabling computers to see, identify and process images in the same way that human vision does, and then provide the appropriate output.

Computer Vision is the same as imparting human intelligence and instincts into a computer.

Sounds simple, right?

Well, technology isn’t although the concept is simple. It is a difficult task to enable computers to recognize images of different objects.

For better understanding, imagine whenever a machine processes raw visual input – such as a JPEG file or a camera feed – it’s using computer vision to understand what it’s seeing. Think of computer vision as the part of the human brain that processes the information received by the eyes – not the eyes themselves.

As a scientific discipline, computer vision is associated with the theory behind AI systems that extract information from images. As a technological discipline, computer vision seeks to apply its theories and models for the construction of computer vision systems.

Sub-domains of computer vision include scene reconstruction, event detection, video tracking, object recognition, 3D pose estimation, learning, indexing, motion estimation, and image restoration.

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What are the various applications of Computer Vision?

The concept of computer vision was first introduced in the 1970s. All these new applications of computer vision excited everyone. Having said that, the computer vision technology advanced enough to make these applications available to everyone at ease today.

However, in recent years the world witnessed a significant leap in technology that has put computer vision on the priority list of many industries.

As mentioned earlier, computer vision plays a crucial role in the advancement of technologies, especially AI. The applications of computer vision, in particular, are very versatile and never-ending.

From something as basic as convenient stores to healthcare, computer vision is being implemented everywhere.

  • Retail stores: The newest and most exciting application of computer vision can be seen in the new store launched by Amazon Company called ‘Amazon Go'. In this innovative retail store, there are no cashiers or checkout stations!

That’s right, no more waiting in line to pay the bills. It’s a partially automated store and by utilizing computer vision, deep learning, and sensor fusion customers are able to simply exit the store with products of their choice and get charged for their purchases through their Amazon account. Amazing, right?

  • Automotive: Computer vision is also taking the automotive industry by storm. And we can clearly see why. Companies like Waymo and Tesla have developed self-driving cars that are going to literally rule the streets in the coming years. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.25 million people die each year as a result of traffic incidents and these cars promise to make our driving safer.

They are equipped with sensors and software that can detect 360 degrees of movements of pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles, road work, and other objects. They are able to follow the traffic flow and regulations and can detect obstacles in its way.

  • Healthcare: While we all know that computers can never replace humans in doing what they do, especially in healthcare. But technology is helping healthcare professionals accurately classify conditions and illnesses by reducing and eliminating inaccurate diagnoses and thereby saving patients’ lives.

One of the most recent and exciting medical procedures involving computer vision is a real-time blood monitor by the Gauss Surgical company, that solves the problem of inaccurate blood loss measurement during injuries and surgeries. It maximizes transfusions and recognizes hemorrhage better than the human eye. 

How does computer vision differ from image processing?

Both computer vision and image processing are based on the input of an image or signal and then processing the signal to give us the altered output.  As their names already imply their goals and methodologies, the boundaries of these two fields may seem clear. However, they draw heavily from the methodologies of one another, which can make the boundaries between them blurry and people confused between the two. 

To put out simply, image processing is a subset of computer vision. A computer vision system uses the image processing algorithms to try and perform its functions.

As the name suggests, in image processing an image is processed. The image is bettered. It may have something to do with smoothing, sharpening, contrasting, stretching etc. It makes the image more enhancive & readable. Also, input and output are both images.

The ultimate goal of computer vision is to use computers to emulate human vision, including learning and being able to make inferences and take actions based on visual inputs. Computer vision is not limited to pixel-wise operations, it can be a lot more complex than image processing. The input can be both images or videos, and the output is not necessarily an image but can also be quantitative or qualitative information, like size, color, shape, classification, etc.

Therefore, if the goal is to enhance the image for later use, then this may be called image processing. And if the goal is to recognize objects and provide useful information on it then it can be called computer vision. 

Simple enough?

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Does computer vision technology involve machine learning?

As you already know, there is a lot of overlap between computer vision and image processing. Machine learning, on the other hand, is flexible as it can be used in both computer vision and image processing. Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence that provides systems with the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. The goal of machine learning is to optimize differentiable parameters so that a certain loss/cost function is minimized.

Machine learning can be used in both image processing and computer vision but it is found to be more useful in computer vision than in image processing.

Computer Vision has the power of complex image processing techniques to extract meaningful features from a given image or video samples whereas machine learning deals with pattern recognition and computational learning using sophisticated data-prediction algorithms, artificial neural networks, etc. 

How to develop skills in Computer Vision?

Before starting a career in your desired field, you need to develop proper skills to increase the chances of getting employed. And the earlier you start, the better.

  1. Get your basics right: For starters, as usual, get the basics right by developing your knowledge in probability, statistics, linear algebra, calculus (both: differential and integral). A brief introduction to matrix calculus should also come in handy.

It would be really helpful to have a background on both R and Python language. You can build projects that use Python programming to develop some hands-on experience. Click here to check out some projects based on Python.

Remember, the only way to truly master a skill is by practicing it.

  1. Digital Image Processing: As you've already seen, it is immensely crucial to have knowledge of image processing. It is sometimes considered as a part of computer vision and, therefore, it is crucial to have your concepts clear on it.
  1. Computer Vision: Once done with Digital Image Processing the next step is to understand the mathematical models underlying the formulations of a variety of applications of image and video content. You can learn about various computer vision algorithms to understand this. For starters, Image Thresholding and Canny Edge Detection algorithms are good ones, to begin with.
  1. Bring in Python and Open Source: There are many packages such as OpenCV, PIL, vlfeat and the likes. Now is the right time to use these packages built by others into your projects. No need to implement everything from scratch.
  1. Machine Learning and ConvNets: The core idea is to teach a computer to learn concepts using data—without being explicitly programmed. Practice some basic machine learning algorithms on your own to understand their functionality in computer vision projects.

Remember, the most important skill you need to develop is practical skills. Build projects, learn more. Keep yourself updated on the latest trends and innovations regarding computer vision.

And, stay curious!

Let’s look at some projects idea you can try immediately from your home and improve your skills.

Computer vision projects:

1. Computer Vision-Based Text Scanner:

If you are interested in giving eyes to machines/robots which can be clubbed with processors and actuators to make the machines perform actions based on their vision, this project is your gateway into it.

In this project, you will make your computer "read" and identify texts! You will learn to develop a computer vision based text scanner that can scan any text from an image using the optical character recognition algorithm and display the text on your screen. You will also learn image processing algorithms like image thresholding, optical character recognition, etc.

Sounds exciting, right?

Build a Computer Vision Based Text Scanner

2. Computer Vision-Based Mouse:

If you want to build a career based on Computer Vision, then this project is apt for you. In this project, you will build a Computer Vision-based mouse to control the cursor using the object tracking algorithms. Using this project, you can carry out all the functionalities of a mouse by just showing corresponding colors in the webcam.

You can make your computer “see” and move your mouse accordingly!

You'll also gain more knowledge of image processing algorithms, Canny edge detection, object tracking, etc. by doing this project.

Build Computer Vision Based Mouse

3. Facial Expression Recognition Project:

Imagine a project where a machine can detect a person’s facial expression and even display whether he/she is smiling, sad or shocked. Sounds fun, right?

This software system is designed to first detect and read a person’s face. The system then computes a number of facial parameters of the person.

After detecting these parameters, the system compares them with default expressions for sadness, smile, and others. Based on the statistics, the system concludes the person’s emotional state. Visual Studio and SQL Server are some of the technologies that are used and you can gain knowledge on them.

Build a Computer Vision Based Smart Selfie Application

4. Cursor Movement by Hand Gesture Project:

Imagine if you could control cursor through hand gestures. It sounds really intriguing, doesn’t it?

Well, this project puts forward a system that allows the user to control the mouse movements through the use of hand movements only. No need to use a mouse anymore. The implementation of this project will be really useful in large scale industries and offices

The system uses a webcam in order to detect hand gesture movements. It continuously scans the camera input for five finger hand like patterns. Once a hand is detected, the system then locks it as an object. After the object has been flagged and detected, the system then constantly records its movements in terms of X-Y direction movement based coordinates. These coordinates are then mapped real time onto the mouse cursor to move it according to hand movements. 

Build a Computer Vision Based Cursor Control Project

5. Theft Detection Device Project:

Are you paranoid about your safety? If you are, there is no surprise. Everyday theft is increasing and having a machine that can detect thieves will undoubtedly come in handy.

This device helps to secure your homes and offices from theft. It uses image processing on live video to detect theft using motion. It also highlights the area where theft occurs.

It allows the user to view the theft details and saving the video of the theft in a USB drive. In this system, a camera along with a circuit LCD, display IR for night vision and a USB drive for storage is used. As soon as the camera detects motion, the system uses image processing to identify the exact area of motion occurrence and then highlights it accordingly. The system now transmits the images of the occurrence over the internet to be viewed by the user online.

You can gain so much knowledge on image processing algorithms its and Raspberry Pi by doing this project.

6. Camera Motion Sensing Project:

This motion sensor project detects motion in a particular environment and sets off an alarm accordingly. It is like having your own CCTV camera. The only difference is you would be the one who built it.

This software system is designed in C that constantly monitors an environment using a camera. It even records images of the motion taking place as soon as it is detected.

You first need to set a security code. As soon as the user sets the code and activates the system, the monitoring starts.

The motion detector algorithm now constantly monitors the environment to check for any movement.

As soon as any movement takes place in front of the camera the alarm is activated. The user can deactivate the alarm by entering the security code again.

7.Look Based Media Player:

Remember those moments when you're completely immersed in a movie you're playing on the laptop and then you get an urgent call? And you miss important parts while answering it and you have to rewind again to the part where you exactly left it off. Sounds irritating, right? Well, it is. However, here is a solution to this problem.

A look based media player that pauses itself when the user is not looking at it and resumes as soon as the user looks at it again.

This is done using the camera or webcam on top of the computer. As long as the camera detects the user’s face looking at it, the media will be played. The player pauses as soon as the user’s face is not completely seen. This way you won’t miss any emotional drama from your favorite movie.

8. Read Me My Book App: 

No one likes carrying huge books. It is difficult and hectic. And in the world of digitalization, this project will make your books digitalized as well. Read me my book application helps in converting hardcopy of books into pdf form. 

In this project, you can build an application where you can click a picture using your mobile phone camera of the hardcopy pages and it will be converted into pdf form. You will learn optical character recognition and how it is used to convert hardcopy pictures into a pdf file by doing this project.

The other advantages of this app are, one can update books by just clicking hardcopies pictures and it also allows us to delete the pages which are not being used.

Hope you got some good computer vision project ideas from this article.

Suppose, if you want to build great computer vision projects but don’t have the necessary technical knowledge, don’t worry!

We at Skyfi Labs have developed an innovative learning methodology through which you can learn the latest technologies by building projects hands-on right from your home. With the online course content available 24x7 and 1-1 technical assistance provided, developing great expertise on the latest technologies like computer vision will never be tough for you.

Comment your queries below, we will assist you at the earliest.

Good luck!




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