Computers Can See

Posted Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 1:50 PM

"Computer vision is a sub-field of artificial intelligence concerned with analyzing data from pictures."

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Computers Can See

PostedTuesday, September 9, 2014 at 2:23 PM

Sophia Luo
Sophia Luo
Computers Can See

Photo provided by Ozge Ozcanli

Author: Sophia Luo

Have you ever looked at a photo on a social networking site and seen how the computer picked out all the faces in the shot? Ever wonder how your Xbox can identify the number of people standing in front of it? Computer vision is a sub-field of artificial intelligence concerned with analyzing data from pictures to gather and manipulate information about their three dimensional characteristics. Computer vision highlights the relationship between society and technology – it is a reminder of how far humans have progressed and of the potential that future generations have to build upon current successes. Moreover, it lies at the very foundations of many essential pieces of technology today: A broad range of gadgets from transportation infrastructure to sports broadcasts and from video games to security cameras all rely on computer vision. Engineers use it to develop roadside cameras with license plate recognition capabilities for real time traffic management. They also utilize computer vision to track athletes as they run up and down the field to provide real time video augmentation for consumers to enjoy and to create three dimensional models of the sports field. Furthermore, they develop video games with motion detection and gesture recognition, both of which are core concepts of computer vision, and apply similar technology to create security cameras that can detect unwanted trespassers or escaping criminals. The list of real world applications of computer vision is endless.

Providence ModelOzge Ozcanli is a computer vision scientist with a Ph.D. in computer engineering. She co-founded a research and development company with two of her fellow Ph.D. graduates from Brown and their advisor. A typical day at her company includes, “contributing ideas (through researching existing ideas, learning new things, and thinking), or writing a proposal for a new research program,” and coding software for different company projects. Occasionally, she writes technical papers on computer vision and presents them at conferences. One of the things she works on is creating 3D models of the earth’s surface from satellite images, such as this model of downtown Providence, RI. These models can be used to update maps and road networks, or even to give first responders an idea of the terrain after a natural disaster.

Ozge says, “Engineering is about using existing solutions/building blocks to solve novel problems which no one knows how to solve yet.” When asked why she enjoys engineering so much she stated, “I like the thrill of attempting to solve difficult problems, really put my brain to work, learn new things, and publish on findings to others.”

There is much to be explored in the field of computer vision, and there is no limit to the number of amazing technologies that can be developed. If you love learning and discovering new things like Ozge does, computer vision may be of interest to you. Look into universities with strong computer engineering or computer science departments. Many will have computer vision groups already in place.

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