The advent of computer vision has been a breakthrough in the field of technology. Computer vision is a technology, wh ich, by the aid of AI, enables a computer system to “see,” analyze and process visual data, such as images and videos. Image recognition is a subset of computer vision. It is a technique that analyzes pixels and patterns of digital images, in order to recognize or classify them. In image recognition, a series of complex algorithms are trained to analyze each pixel to recognize patterns in the images. IR is trained on a large dataset that consists of billions of images, which enables the technology to perform an accurate analysis.
Here are 8 Amazing Applications of this Game-changing Technology:
- In Automobiles:
Tech giants such as Tesla and even Google have been working on developing self-driving cars. Image recognition plays a vital role in enabling these autonomous vehicles to navigate without being driven by a human. The radar and LIDAR sensors in the multiple video cameras installed in the self-driving cars help them in performing various tasks, just the way a human driver would. Driverless cars would significantly reduce cases of road accidents.
- In Healthcare:
The healthcare industry has also benefited from the use of IR. Surgical robots make use of image recognition technology to perform surgical procedures. Moreover, the technology is also used significantly in the field of radiology, where more than 90% of the patient data is stored in the form of images. This has significantly reduced the burden on radiologists.
- In Security:
Security cameras are essentially installed by several people outside their homes, to keep intruders at bay. However, most home security systems rely on primitive technologies that make use of heat or motion detectors, which often trigger false alarms. However, systems using image recognition technology are able to perform many more tasks, which includes identifying humans (without any lighting or angles) and monitoring pets. ‘Netatmo Welcome’ by the French consumer electronics manufacturer Netatmo, is a smart security camera that starts recording video if it detects an unknown face.
- In Retail:
IR helps shoppers find desired items in a store. The image recognition technique helps the customers find objects available in the store that are similar to the ones they’re carrying for reference. Moreover, customers no longer have to deal with the hassles of trying on clothes when they go shopping. Brands like Topshop have started using an AR-based visual mirror that has several cameras installed on it. These cameras detect a person’s body parts and suggest suitable outfits, which can be viewed in the mirror.
- In Gaming:
IR technology has revolutionized the world of gaming. ‘Microsoft Kinect’ by Microsoft, is a video game based on image recognition that tracks the human body in real time. IR enables the gamers’ actual location to be used as a battlefield for virtual adventure. Image recognition helps generate new user experiences.
- For Data Organization:
Personal photo organization is one of the most beneficial uses of image recognition. IR segregates images in one’s phone gallery based on visual topics. In today’s competitive scenario, apps want to provide more exciting features to their users, such as image tags, automatic photo keywording and improved search functions. Apps incorporate image recognition APIs, which categorize images based on identified patterns, grouping them accordingly.
- For Facial Recognition:
Facial recognition is a specific application of IR. This technology makes it possible to identify individuals by analyzing their facial features. Facial recognition has been widely adopted for several functions, which include unlocking phones, tracking attendance, validating identity in ATMs, preventing retail crime and aiding forensic investigations, among others.
- For Social Media:
Image recognition has also enhanced the domain of social media. One can use IR tools to compare images on social media platforms with an extensive virtual library of images; this eliminates the need to manually review the pictures, and one can uncover the required images speedily.
The image recognition market is expected to flourish in the coming years, as a result of the increase in the number of smartphone sales, the rising popularity of cloud services and the heightened demand for security systems that are incorporated with image recognition features. North America is a frontrunner when it comes to the adoption of technology, and thus, IR has been widely adopted in this region. Moreover, North America is home to several tech giants, such as Google and Microsoft, which also plays a significant role in boosting the adoption of IR. Google’s Cloud Vision API is one of the most extensively used tools for image recognition. Countries in the Asia-Pacific are also not far behind in terms of embracing image recognition. The fast-growing e-commerce and retail sectors, as well as concerns regarding security, have pushed countries in this region to embrace image recognition technology. With technologically advanced nations like Japan and Singapore being present in the region, widespread adoption of IR is expected in the Asia-Pacific in the coming years. Qualcomm, Inc., Honeywell International, Inc., Hitachi, NEC Corporation and Wikitude GmbH are some of the companies invested in this space.
Despite the numerous ways in which the image recognition technology benefits humankind, it also brings along certain demerits. The IR technology provides an extremely accurate analysis; however, at times, there might be a vulnerability in detection – even a slight change in the angle in which the camera is held, or a change in one’s appearance may produce different results. Also, there is a serious threat of breach of privacy. With the help of image recognition apps, the government not only keeps track of criminals and miscreants, but also snoops over the privacy of its citizens, without their consent. The recent FaceApp controversy is a classic example of such a situation. App developers are known to lay down ambiguous privacy policies, which are difficult to be interpreted by users, and hence they end up downloading apps that compromise their privacy.
Thus, it can be seen that the image recognition technology can be used as well as abused. It would take a few years to overcome these demerits that this technology brings along. If renowned industry names in this field take initiatives to make their tools more secure and transparent, keeping in mind the privacy of their users, the adoption of IR will surge further.