Monday, September 04, 2006

Neat Tech: "Shadow Illuminator"

Update: Well, dog my cats. Looks as if NASA Ames and some other folks have a competing product and a patent or five to do the kind of thing I mention below, based on Retinex. Interesting. I wonder what close comparison between TruView and Shadow Illuminator would yield. The Ames "Visual Servo" pages are also intriguing.

Too cool not to blog about: Shadow Illuminator. I hope this guy and the people who are working on implementing the algorithm in silicon make a good chunk of change from it. You can submit your own pic and the site will crunch it to produce a picture with the areas in shadow automagically made more visible. If your image is low noise and not highly compressed, you can get remarkable results with fewer artifacts than some of the old typical computer image manipulation tricks. Here's some examples of the potential source-image gotchas. As is mentioned at the top of that page, this tech, or something similar, has potentially huge implications for machine vision. Just think how much more clever the next generation Roomba could be! Ahem.

I'm not sure if any of the algorithm applies Land's Retinex Theory -- especially to really poorly lit areas. If not, there's a bit of low-hanging fruit left and I declare that I thought of it. So I hope that piece can fall in the non-patentable arena But I'm not sufficiently gumptional at the moment to check for priors in the USPTO. [Later: Whoops. turns out several other people {warning: PDF file} already have done work on just that. Oh well, at least my instincts for interesting solutions seem good. ;\]

One thing I want to do some time is try to make up Retinex-style pictures with a camera that can pick up infrared (as many digital cameras can if you remove any IR filter they might have). Substituting an IR channel for a red channel might be interesting.


PS: Yes, long time no blog. I've been focusing on other things. There is a backlog of things I want to write about, and some other people are doing some of the work I wanted to do. I'll be posting more about that in my "Wimpy Pseudo Blogroll" soon.