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Computer vision is a branch of machine learning that deals with the processing and interpretation of digital image and video data in real-time. With the advancement and prevalence of technologies such as smartphones and digital cameras, the world is saturated with an enormous volume of visual data. According to Digital Imaging Reporter’s State of the Industry 2018 report, over 1.2 trillion images were captured by smartphones and cameras in 2017 alone.

“Computer vision is a fascinating area of research that brings lots of useful applications in today’s world. This field is the study of capturing and interpreting images and videos. As cameras and sensors are becoming increasingly pervasive and inexpensive, there is exponential growth in visual data,” says Dr. Prabhu Natarajan, program director for the Master of Science in Computer Vision. He adds that computer vision is a field that is growing rapidly as scientists and engineers derive even more uses for such technologies to improve the wellbeing of human lives.

Here are seven amazing ways in which computer vision technology can be used, as explained by Dr. Prabhu and Dr. Liu Fang, associate professor from the Department of Computer Science.

Computer Vision in Unmanned Vehicles

Self-driving cars used to only exist in fantasies of the future, but they are very much a reality now, thanks to computer vision technology. Self-driving cars are fitted with multiple sensors and cameras used to acquire visual data from the environment. These images are then processed in real-time to accurately detect obstacles, pedestrians, lane markings, and traffic signals. This allows the cars to autonomously react, maneuver, and follow traffic rules safely.

Computer Vision in Healthcare

In modern medicine, medical imaging is widely used to assist healthcare workers in making accurate diagnoses or analyses of a patient’s condition. This technology makes it possible for doctors to produce detailed images of the insides of a patient’s body. One example of this is the computed tomography (CT) scan. The CT scan is a non-invasive test that uses X-rays to capture different angles of a person’s organs, bones, or tissues. Computer vision techniques are then used to process and generate tomographic images from these X-rays. The scans can be viewed as a 2D image or reconstructed to produce a 3D model of the particular organ or bone that was scanned.

Computer Vision in Retail

Some retail shops have gotten a serious upgrade in the fitting room. Computer vision technology has made virtual try-ons possible, where customers are able to visualize what certain clothes, accessories, or even beauty looks will suit them without having to physically try anything on. In such instances, computer vision technology helps to generate an image that superimposes the product image onto the customer’s photo and ensures that they blend together seamlessly.

Computer Vision in E-Commerce

Imagine this: One day, you’re scrolling through social media when you see an amazing bag. You really like this bag and decide to search for a similar one from online shops. But as you start to type in the keywords in the search box, you find yourself unable to describe the bag in a manner that yields any accurate results. This is where image searching — or image retrieval — can help. Through computer vision technology, the algorithms in the search engine will process and analyze the query image and return results that are similar. Perfect for online shopping!

Computer Vision in Security and Law Enforcement

Computer vision is frequently used to aid in security procedures and law enforcement. A common example of this is during travel immigration, where technology is used to authenticate documents for faster immigration clearance. When travelers are asked to scan the photo page of their passports, the system is able to extract information from the page and match it with a backend database to determine whether or not the information and travel documents are valid.

Another application of computer vision in security is through automated video surveillance. Surveillance cameras continuously track objects or people to monitor their activities and movements. If a suspicious individual appears and the system matches his or her identity to a law enforcement database, an alarm is raised.

Computer Vision in Sports

Another arena where computer vision is commonly used is in the field of sports. For example, computer vision technology can help digital cameras to track and follow the movements of specific players in a soccer game, allowing camera crews to find and select the best views for broadcast. These same sensors can also help to calculate real-time analytics and statistics in a game, such as ball possession percentages or player performance. Additionally, coaches can look back on the captured data to study and improve each player’s actions.

Computer Vision in Manufacturing

In manufacturing work, factories utilize industrial automation and machine vision technology — a subcategory of computer vision — to swiftly and efficiently check for the quality assurance of goods in production lines. For instance, cameras can be set up along a conveyor belt to capture images that are then sent to a real-time detection system to scan and sort the goods for defects.

As you can see, computer vision has a multitude of uses across a wide range of industries. The demand for scientists and engineers trained in this field is poised to grow, and DigiPen (Singapore)’s upcoming Master of Science in Computer Vision program will prepare you for this new age of technology.