Computer Vision and The Future Of Mobile Devices

Computer vision and machine learning means capturing images or video with  software to make sense out of them will play a role in the evolution of mobile  devices, says Raja Bala, Principal Scientist / Area Manager of  Xerox/PARC/Systems Lab. This technology can be used to recognize faces,  objects, and landmarks with mobile devices using software algorithms that  operate faster and in real time in a smartphone.

“Computer vision is (about) interpreting visual data … capturing and using  machine learning for this.” Computer vision is the vogue for mobile devices  today, Bala said; camera and sensors in mobile devices get better with each new model. Tablets allow mapping a room’s three-dimensional structure. Google’s Tango Project is an example of computer vision.

Bala said that computer vision makes intelligent use of all the sensors on a smartphone; a light sensor may be used to calculate user time spent indoors versus outdoors. Other applications include depression therapy, lighting correction in smartphone photography, and an accelerometer for monitoring user activity throughout the day. Applications also cover healthcare, transportation, and retail. Some typical applications of computer vision and mobile devices could be:

  • Take a picture of a meal so an app monitors diet and nutrition intake (Purdue University research).
  • A mobile device pointed at your face reads vitals like heart rate and respiration (Phillips and Xerox PARC).
  • Mobile device assisted driving (Xerox, NVidia, and auto manufacturers).
  • Take a picture of a pair of shoes you like, and have app suggest matching products at certain retail outlets.

Computer vision will play a role in future optical wearables (like Google Glass) especially in recognizing activities and interaction; examples being use cellphones; open door and go through; handshake; pass and throw an object; type on keyboard; wave; write on board or paper.

“One interesting application that caught my attention was using wearable vision to helping the visually impaired,” Bala said that a blind person with a wearable at a vending machine has the wearable take a picture and recognize objects in the machine so the person has information about the choices to make for use.

According to Bala, the major players in computer vision and mobility include big companies like Xerox, Google, Intel, Qualcomm, and NVidia. Some small start-up firms specializing in software development kits (SDKs) are working on gesture recognition, and depth sensing. Some university-based research and development organizations work being done in the field.

Replying to question about Xerox’s entry into computer vision on mobile device, Bala explained that Xerox was working in the trucking industry, by creating a mobile app for truck drivers to scan bills of landing to improve invoicing process. Another project focused on using a mobile device as a driver assistance device for long haul truck drivers, these projects eventually will be an important business and an important technology focus for Xerox.

While Xerox may not be a mobile company but the business of transactions in computer vision and machine through using a mobile device as smart sensor to automate business processes is already working.

An overview of Xerox’s Computer vision work is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wr7iIyT3024

To get an idea of Xerox’s Safe Courier Mobile Solution a computer vision project about secure scanning and exchange of documents using mobile devices, see this You Tube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iFuyM9Kzbcg

As business workflows make greater use of tablets, computer vision will show up in future tablet designs, Bala also foresees more smartphone and wearables vendors adding computer vision into their future products.

“Everyone carries a smartphone or tablet,” says Bala, and more and more wearable sensors will be used soon, creating greater opportunities for computer vision.

Author Bio:  Sera is a technology author, and has been writing about a wide array of topics related to technology. In this day and age you need to be tech savvy to keep pace with the growing world, and she tend to cover most of those bases for the benefit of her readers and writes for many tech sites such as www.theonespy.com.

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