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New group eyes computer vision for mobile devices

Posted: 25 Apr 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Embedded Vision Alliance? computer vision? hardware challenges?

Chip, tool and algorithm vendors will form a new trade group called Embedded Vision Alliance. To be officially launched in May, the group will push computer vision to become the killer app for next-generation smartphones and media tablets.

"We believe embedded vision will have a huge impact in mobile devices in the next few years," said Jeff Bier, an organizer of the group and principal of DSP consulting firm Berkeley Design Technology Inc. "It will proliferate in home A/V systems and consumers will come to expect it," he said in a talk at the Linley Tech Mobile Conference in San Jose, California.

The group will initially consist of a handful of vendors with deep experience in computer vision. They aim to share that expertise with a growing set of consumer and embedded silicon and systems vendors via tutorials and discussion groups.

Bier sees a variety of computer vision applications headed for the mainstream including user interfaces combining gesture, voice and face recognition, which he said "will become pervasive."

Other apps include optical character recognition, visual search, augmented reality and 3D model creation from collections of photographs. In addition, some researchers are experimenting with measuring respiration and heart rate from relatively low-resolution videos.

"Adding embedded vision to tablets and smartphones will open up new apps for these systems," said Bier. "It creates some great opportunities for differentiation in a market where companies struggle to find it," he said.

Plenty of technical challenges are ahead. Extracting useful information from videos and images requires "a hierarchy of processing elements [and] a diverse and dynamic set of algorithms," said Bier.

Those challenges will require highly parallel hardware with a mixture of programmable elements that can handle everything from simple to complex algorithms operating on everything from fast flows of pixels to complex software objects, he added.

In addition to the hardware challenges, computer vision software is still in a nascent state.

"There's a lack of application development infrastructure today, so you need to be the system designer or the processor designer initially and expand out from there," Bier said. The good news is "we have a good algorithmic foundation for computer vision [from 30 years of academic studies] that we can now get into mobile devices," he added.

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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