Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Computer Vision

PostedMarch 16, 2012

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Anchor Lede: Computers can search for words very quickly, but when it comes to images our brains are much better. So engineers are exploring how we can help computers.

Randy Atkins: If you’re web surfing for, say, a “beautiful” or “funny looking” picture, search engines have a tough time knowing exactly what you want. So Paul Sajda, a Columbia University biomedical engineer, is monitoring people’s brain activity as he shows them pictures at the rate of ten a second.

Paul Sajda: You might see an image and realize, “Ooh, that’s interesting.” You might not be able to then, in that fraction of a second, really describe it in detail. You just know that it caught your attention.

Randy Atkins: Sajda says a computer can then match that brain response to a picture and look for similar images.

Paul Sajda: We know what the brain is good at in terms of visual processing. We know what computers are very good at. Our goal is to create a system that leverages the advantages of both.

Randy Atkins: Such a combo might be especially useful in high pressure situations, like stock trading or military analysis, where lots of visual information must be analyzed quickly. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.

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  • Neuromatters, a spin-off company based on this technology.