Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Getting the Big Picture Quickly with Speedy Software

28.10.2010
Software Edits Huge Images in Seconds Instead of Hours

University of Utah computer scientists developed software that quickly edits “extreme resolution imagery” – huge photographs containing billions to hundreds of billions of pixels or dot-like picture elements. Until now, it took hours to process these “gigapixel” images. The new software needs only seconds to produce preview images useful to doctors, intelligence analysts, photographers, artists, engineers and others.

By sampling only a fraction of the pixels in a massive image – for example, a satellite photo or a panorama made of hundreds of individual photos – the software can produce good approximations or previews of what the fully processed image would look like.

That allows someone to interactively edit and analyze massive images – pictures larger than a gigapixel (billion pixels) – in seconds rather than hours, says Valerio Pascucci, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Utah and its Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute.

“You can go anywhere you want in the image,” he says. “You can zoom in, go left, right. From your perspective, it is as if the full ‘solved’ image has been computed.”

He compares the photo-editing software with public opinion polling: “You ask a few people and get the answer as if you asked everyone. It’s exactly the same thing.”

The new software – Visualization Streams for Ultimate Scalability, or ViSUS – allows gigapixel images stored on an external server or drive to be edited from a large computer, a desktop or laptop computer, or even a smart phone, Pascucci says.

“The same software runs very well on an iPhone or a large computer,” he adds.

A study describing development of the ViSUS software is scheduled for online publication Saturday, Oct. 30 in the world’s pre-eminent computer graphics journal, ACM Transactions on Graphics, published by the Association for Computing Machinery.

The paper calls ViSUS “a simple framework for progressive processing of high-resolution images with minimal resources … [that] for the first time, is capable of handling gigapixel imagery in real time.”

Pascucci conducted the research with University of Utah SCI Institute colleagues Brian Summa, a doctoral student in computing; Giorgio Scorzelli, a senior software developer; and Peer-Timo Bremer, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where co-author Ming Jiang also works.

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. The University of Utah Research Foundation and Lawrence Livermore share a patent on the software, and the researchers plan to start a company to commercialize ViSUS.

From Atlanta to Atlantis – and Stitching Salt Lake City

Pascucci defines massive imagery as images containing more than one gigapixel –which is equal to 100 photos from a 10-megapixel (10 million pixel) digital camera.

In the study, the computer scientists used a number of images ranging in size from megapixels (millions of picture elements) to hundreds of gigapixels to test how well the ViSUS software let them interactively edit large images, and to show how well the software can handle images of various sizes, from small to extremely large.

In one example, they used the software to perform “seamless cloning,” which means taking one image and merging it with another image. They combined a 3.7-gigapixel image of the entire Earth with a 116-gigapixel satellite photo of the city of Atlanta, zooming in on the Gulf of Mexico and putting Atlanta underwater there.

“An artist can interactively place a copy of Atlanta under shallow water and recreate the lost city of Atlantis,” says the new study, which is titled, “Interactive Editing of Massive Imagery Made Simple: Turning Atlanta into Atlantis.”

“It’s just a way to demonstrate how an artist can manipulate a huge amount of data in an image without being encumbered by the file size,” says Pascucci.

Pascucci, Summa and colleagues also used a camera mounted on a robotic panning device and placed atop a University of Utah building to take 611 photographs during a six-hour period. Together, the photos covered the entire Salt Lake Valley.

At full resolution, it took them four hours to do “panorama stitching,” which is stitching the mosaic of photos together into a 3.27-gigapixel panorama of the valley that eliminated the seams between the images and differences in their exposures, says Summa, first author of the study.

But using the ViSUS software, it took only two seconds to create a “global preview” of the entire Salt Lake panorama that looked almost as good – and had a relatively low resolution of only 0.9-megapixels, or only one-3,600th as much data as full-resolution panorama.

And that preview image is interactive, so a photo editor can make different adjustments – such as tint, color intensity and contrast – and see the effects in seconds.

Pascucci says ViSUS’ significance is not in creating the preview, but in allowing an editor to zoom in on any part of the low-resolution panorama and quickly see and edit a selected portion of it at full resolution. Older software required the full resolution image to be processed before it could be edited.

Uses for Quick Editing of Big Pictures

Pascucci says the method can be used to edit medical images such as MRI and CT scans – and can do so in three dimensions, even though their study examined only two-dimensional images. “We can handle 2-D and 3-D in the same way,” he says.

The software also might lead to more sophisticated computer games. “We are studying the possibility of involving the player in building their own [gaming] environment on the fly,” says Pascucci.

The software also will be useful to intelligence analysts examining satellite photos, and researchers using high-resolution microscopes, for example, to study how the eye’s light-sensing retina is “wired” by nerves, based on detailed microscopic images.

An intelligence analyst may need to compare two 100-gigabyte satellite photos of the same location but taken at different times – perhaps to learn if aircraft or other military equipment arrived or left that location between the times the photos were taken.

Conventional software to compare the photos must go through all the data in each photo and compare differences – a process that “would take hours. It might be a whole day,” Pascucci says. But with ViSUS, “we quickly build an approximation of the difference between the images, and allow the analyst to explore interactively smaller regions of the total image at higher resolution without having to wait.”

How it Works: Catching Some Zs

Pascucci says two key parts of the software must work together delicately:

-- “One is the way we store the images – the order in which we store the pixels on the disk. That is part of the technology being patented” because the storage format “allows you to retrieve the sample of pixels you want really fast.”

-- How the data are processed is the software’s second crucial feature. The algorithm – a set of formulas and rules – for processing image data allows the researchers to use only a subset of pixels, which they can move efficiently.

The image processing method can produce previews at various resolutions by taking progressively more and more pixels from the data that make up the entire full-resolution image.

Normally, the amount of memory used in a computer to edit and preview a massive image would have to be large enough to handle the entire data set for that image.

“In our method, the preview has constant size, so it can always fit in memory, even if the fine-resolution data keep growing,” Pascucci says.

Data for the full-resolution image is stored on a disk or drive, and ViSUS repeatedly swaps data with the disk as needed for creating new preview images as editing progresses. The software does that very efficiently by pulling more and more data subsets from the full image data in the form of progressively smaller Z-shaped sets of pixels.

Pascucci says ViSUS’ major contribution is that “we don’t need to read all the data to give you an approximation” of the full image.

If an image contained a terabyte of data – a trillion bytes – the software could produce a good approximation of the image using only one-millionth of the total image data, or about a megabyte, Pascucci says.

The computer scientists now have gone beyond the 116-gigapixel Atlanta image and, in unpublished work, have edited satellite images of multiple cities exceeding 500 gigapixels. The next target: a terapixel image – 1,000 gigapixels or 1 trillion pixels.

For more information on the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute, see:
http://www.sci.utah.edu
For information on the University of Utah College of Engineering, see:
http://www.coe.utah.edu/
Contacts:
-- Valerio Pascucci, associate professor of computer science – cellular (801) 550-2471, office (801) 587-9885, pascucci@sci.utah.edu
-- Brian Summa, doctoral student in computer science – cellular (215) 605-3252, bsumma@sci.utah.edu
-- Lee Siegel, science news specialist, University of Utah Public Relations –
office (801) 581-8993, cellular (801) 244-5399, leesiegel@ucomm.utah.edu

Lee Siegel | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.utah.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht The TU Ilmenau develops tomorrow’s chip technology today
27.04.2017 | Technische Universität Ilmenau

nachricht Five developments for improved data exploitation
19.04.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>