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What is computer vision?

It’s the field of computer science which is concerned with the automated extraction of information contained in one or more images. In few words, it’s about making computers see. The following diagram explains this:

Diagram explaining computer vision algorithms

What information can we extract from these images?

First, you need to know that we mean information in its broadest sense. In addition, in this answer, we designate by object anything that is seen in the given images. Here are some examples of information that can be extracted:

  • calculate the 3D shape, the contour, the dimensions, the position, the speed or the orientation of objects of interest,
  • deduct the color, the texture or the material of objects of interest,
  • calculate the number of objects of interest, or any other statistics on them,
  • read what is written, for example on a label, on a page, on a license plate, on a bar code, on a check or on a paper form,
  • recognize objects and their type,
  • recognize a person, an action, a gesture, a face or its expression,
  • evaluate the quality of a product (detect defaults),
  • any combination of these items.

What types of images can be used?

It is possible to use any type of image or image sequence (videos). For example, those coming from the following devices:

  • photo or video camera, webcam,
  • microscope, endoscope or telescope,
  • scanner,
  • radiographic device (X-rays),
  • satellite,
  • infrared camera,
  • etc.

What are the advantages of computer vision?

It allows people to concentrate on that in which they are the best. Computer vision is:

  • economical,
  • tireless,
  • precise,
  • repeatable (always gives the same result for a given input),
  • very fast,
  • able to do tedious tasks,
  • able to perceive wavelengths invisible to humans,
  • able to work in uncomfortable or dangerous environments.

In which fields can computer vision be applied?

It can be applied in many fields. To understand this, you only have to consider how useful our eye are in our everyday life. Here are some examples:

  • automation,
  • industrial inspection and quality control,
  • robotics,
  • scientific research,
  • biomedical,
  • military,
  • multimedia,
  • remote sensing,
  • security, surveillance,
  • home automation,
  • automated recognition of contents of documents (characters, page layout, graphics, etc.).