Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Challenging the paradigm

Every new entrant to the wonderful world of industrial machine vision is told the same thing: it all begins with lighting. Get the lighting right and everything will be straightforward. And historically speaking, that’s been true. Consistent illumination that creates contrast in the features you want to see makes it possible to apply standard vision tools, principally edge detection and blob analysis.

Now, think back to those two video analytics posts I made previously, Does lighting matter? and In-car video analytics. What do they have in common? No control over the lighting.

It was Mitch Rohde, CEO of Quantum Signal, who forced me to think about this. Back in the day when crude presence-absence systems first emerged, lighting was critical. But today we have so much number-crunching capacity available that perhaps we should think differently. Perhaps we should learn from our video analytics colleagues and extract information from video streams without worrying too much about the lighting and optics.

Can we disregard them completely? No, but should we continue investing time and effort in optimizing light direction, intensity and wavelength when maybe raw computing power can do it all for us? Perhaps it’s time to rethink this paradigm.

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