Five Ways Computer Vision Makes Our Lives Better, Safer

January 21, 2015

MotionDSP is training computers to investigate and understand images like the human brain

Burlingame, CA – January 21, 2014 – MotionDSP, a leading provider of image processing and computer vision software, examines how top technologies, highlighted at CES (drones and self-driving cars), are already dramatically changing our lives. Computer vision software trains computers to investigate images and understand them the way the human brain does, but without human fatigue and at massive scale. As we head into 2015, and in years to come, this technology will continue to help make our lives safer and easier.

“People have long pointed cameras at a wide range of significant events to document and monitor them,” said Sean Varah, MotionDSP founder and CEO. “Traffic cameras record images of routine moments like kids in crosswalks near schools, and cell phone cameras record seminal events like political demonstrations in oppressive nations. To date, we have captured more hours of video than humans have time to ever process, and often, significant seconds of footage sit on hard drives or get buried in mountains of visual memories never to be seen by human eyes.”

Computer Vision in Cars: It started with warning systems in cars in the early 2000s: a loud beep indicates we’re about to back into a garbage can, run up a curb or nick a parked car. Since then, more and more vehicles have rear-facing cameras to see objects before we get close enough to warrant the loud beep. Automakers are installing sensor systems that recognize images that are predictive of potential danger, like a car stopping in front of our car. Once the danger is recognized, the system automatically brakes to prevent accidents from happening. In the near future, innovative self-driving cars will use computer vision to change the way we even think about transportation today. These vehicles will detect and process the thousands of images a “vehicle” encounters to arrive at destinations safely, without a human involved at all.

Seeing the Scene 360: Computer vision and image processing software help gather valuable video evidence collected by global affiliates to track the humane treatment of people worldwide. All kinds of organizations can gather real—and often real-time—video, and utilize image processing to help truth seeking analysts extract precise information to combine and reveal a comprehensive vision of what’s happening. The result: a new side to the story supported by irrefutable fact. As we continue to see the evolution of true investigative, crowd-based journalism, organizations can use innovative technology to make sense of video and images to create stories that account for as many perspectives as possible. Used in this capacity, we have the potential to cultivate greater levels of justice, safety and cultural competency.

Flying Kites Making Maps Better: There are a couple of grass roots organizations trying to update the world’s maps and help people in times of trouble. Their efforts are aimed at mapping unmapped areas, such as far-away refugee camps and remote areas hit by natural disasters. These efforts make directing humanitarian services to people in distress much easier, and the process helps provide more precise mapping information to countries that don’t have immediate and reliable access to it. OpenStreetMap.org is a crowd-sourced map of the world created by volunteers doing exactly this: mapping unmapped areas. To get new aerial information about unmapped areas, non-profits such as PublicLab.org are using cameras suspended in kites to capture images and trace over them to define roads in OpenStreetMap. Computer vision and geospatial image processing is helping nonprofits and their crowds of volunteers work more efficiently. Mapping is an enormous and ever-changing undertaking, but with image processing, using open source visuals (from kites, drones, manned aircraft), we can process billions of images to create more up-to-date and accurate maps. New roads can be designed and traced, blocked roads can be corrected, and other geographic obstacles can be updated and disseminated quickly and with greater confidence and reliability.  

Amber Alerts and Crowds of Eyeballs: When a child is missing, time is of the essence. When an Amber Alert is issued about a late-model sedan that left a shopping center between 11:00 and 11:30 am and was subsequently spotted 8 blocks away heading south, computer vision’s fast detection and tracking abilities can search through traffic camera and aerial traffic footage to identify potential vehicles for human eyes to review. The initial computer search significantly improves the efficiency for the expert analysts who are tasked with reviewing potential vehicles. This sort of “heavy lifting” that computers can accomplish to assist human effort can be applied to a variety of searches where time is of the essence and millions of images, or video time, can be eliminated in order to get to the answer. (http://youtu.be/HnwDpg2vvdg)

Predictive Analytics: We can use computer vision to “predict” events that affect public safety. If we know that the density and timing of traffic in one intersection has lead to pedestrian accidents, we can analyze video footage from similar intersections to predict which ones are more dangerous than others. We can start the exploration now: we have cameras in place. We have a whole new generation of aerial cameras (satellites and drones) that can provide data about almost any area. With traffic patterns, the bigger the dataset the better. The possibilities for making accurate “big data” predictions and finding solutions are endless. We can take video of a dangerous crosswalk, see what the true data is, and make changes that could potentially prevent loss of life.

“We can make our crosswalks more secure, we can innovate safer cars, we can find a missing person faster, we can locate unmapped locations, and we can reformulate the value of video in every aspect of life,” continued Varah. “We are just beginning to understand the mighty effects of computer vision–to help make our lives better and more efficient. We can accomplish so many more extraordinary missions in our fast growing and fast moving world with this once futuristic technology. Now.”

About MotionDSP

MotionDSP is a leading provider of advanced imaging processing and computer vision software that helps commercial organizations and government organizations extract critical information from real-time video to answer high stakes questions. MotionDSP’s solutions support operational deployments within the US Department of Defense and National Intelligence agencies, as well as within the homeland security and law enforcement communities and commercial markets.

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PR Contact

Kelly Brieger

Kelly@kbpr.net

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