Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smart Software Gives Surveillance Eyes a ‘Brain’

13.02.2004


In these days of heightened security and precautions, surveillance cameras watching over us as we cross darkened parking lots or looking over our shoulders at airports may seem reassuring, but they’re only of use if someone is watching them. Researchers at the University of Rochester’s computer science laboratories have found a way to give these cameras a rudimentary brain to keep an eye out for us, and the research is already been licensed to a Rochester company with an aim toward homeland security.



“Compared to paying a human, computer time is cheap and getting cheaper,” says Randal Nelson, associate professor of computer science and creator of the software “brain”. “If we can get intelligent machines to stand in for people in observation tasks, we can achieve knowledge about our environment that would otherwise be unaffordable.”

Far from being an electronic “Big Brother,” the software would only focus on things for which it was trained to look—like a gun in an airport, or the absence of a piece of equipment in a lab. Nelson has even created a prototype system that helps a person find things around the house, such as where reading glasses were left.


Nelson set about experimenting with how to differentiate various objects in a simple black-and-white video image like that used in a typical surveillance camera. The software initially looks for changes that happen within the image, such as someone placing a cola can on a desk. The change in the image is immediately highlighted as the software begins trying to figure out if the change in the image is a new object in the scene, or the absence of an object that was there before. Using numerous methods, such as matching up background lines that were broken when the new object was set in front of them, the prototype system is accurate most of the time. It then takes an inventory of all the colors of the object so that an operator can ask the software to “zoom in on that red thing” and the software will comply, even though the soda can in question may be red and silver and overlaid with shadows.

The next step, however, is where Nelson’s software really shines. Nelson has been working for years on ways to get a computer to recognize an object on sight. He began this line of research over a decade ago as he wrote software to help a robot “shop”—picking out a single item, like a box of cereal, from several similar items. One of the tasks he recently gave his students was to set up a game where teams tried to “steal” objects from one another’s table while the tables were monitored by smart cameras. The students would find new ways to defeat the software, and consequently develop new upgrades to the system so it couldn’t be fooled again.

Though a six-month-old baby can distinguish different objects from different angles, getting a computer to do it is a Herculean task of processing, and more complicated still is identifying a simple object in a complicated natural setting like a room bustling with activity.

Unlike the baby, the software needs to be told a lot about an object before it’s able to discern it. Depending on how complex an object is, the software may need anywhere from one to 100 photos of the object from different angles. Something very simple, like a piece of paper, can be “grasped” by the program with a single picture; a soda can may take half a dozen, while a complex object like an ornate lamp may need many photographs taken from different angles to capture all its facets. With those images in mind, the software matches the new object it sees with its database of object to determine what the new object is.

The technology for this ‘smart camera’ has already been licensed to the local company PL E-Communications, LLC., which has plans to develop the technology to control video cameras for security applications. For instance, CEO Paul Simpson is looking into using linked cameras covering a wide area to exchange information about certain objects, be they suspicious packages in an airport or a suspicious truck driving through a city under military control. Even unmanned aerial reconnaissance drones like the Predator that made headlines during the current Iraqi war can use the technology to keep an eye on an area for days at a time, noting when and where objects move.

“We’re hoping to make this technology do things that were long thought impossible—making things more secure without the need to have a human operator on hand every second.” says Simpson.

Nelson and PL E-Communications were connected through the Center for Electronic Imaging Systems (CEIS), a NYSTAR-sponsored Center for Advanced Technology (CATs) devoted to promoting economic development in the greater Rochester region and New York State. CEIS develops and transfers technology from local universities to industry for commercialization, and by educating the next generation of leaders in the fields of electronic imaging and microelectronics design.

Jonathan Sherwood | University of Rochester
Further information:
http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=1698

More articles from Information Technology:

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

nachricht Smart Manual Workstations Deliver More Flexible Production
04.04.2017 | 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

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

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>