Section: Research Program

Robust view-invariant Computer Vision

Local Appearance, Affine Invariance, Receptive Fields


A long-term grand challenge in computer vision has been to develop a descriptor for image information that can be reliably used for a wide variety of computer vision tasks. Such a descriptor must capture the information in an image in a manner that is robust to changes the relative position of the camera as well as the position, pattern and spectrum of illumination.

Members of PRIMA have a long history of innovation in this area, with important results in the area of multi-resolution pyramids, scale invariant image description, appearance based object recognition and receptive field histograms published over the last 20 years. The group has most recently developed a new approach that extends scale invariant feature points for the description of elongated objects using scale invariant ridges. PRIMA has worked with ST Microelectronics to embed its multi-resolution receptive field algorithms into low-cost mobile imaging devices for video communications and mobile computing applications.

Detailed Description

The visual appearance of a neighbourhood can be described by a local Taylor series [48] . The coefficients of this series constitute a feature vector that compactly represents the neighbourhood appearance for indexing and matching. The set of possible local image neighbourhoods that project to the same feature vector are referred to as the "Local Jet". A key problem in computing the local jet is determining the scale at which to evaluate the image derivatives.

Lindeberg [50] has described scale invariant features based on profiles of Gaussian derivatives across scales. In particular, the profile of the Laplacian, evaluated over a range of scales at an image point, provides a local description that is "equi-variant” to changes in scale. Equi-variance means that the feature vector translates exactly with scale and can thus be used to track, index, match and recognize structures in the presence of changes in scale.

A receptive field is a local function defined over a region of an image [56] . We employ a set of receptive fields based on derivatives of the Gaussian functions as a basis for describing the local appearance. These functions resemble the receptive fields observed in the visual cortex of mammals. These receptive fields are applied to color images in which we have separated the chrominance and luminance components. Such functions are easily normalized to an intrinsic scale using the maximum of the Laplacian [50] , and normalized in orientation using direction of the first derivatives [56] .

The local maxima in x and y and scale of the product of a Laplacian operator with the image at a fixed position provides a "Natural interest point" [52] . Such natural interest points are salient points that may be robustly detected and used for matching. A problem with this approach is that the computational cost of determining intrinsic scale at each image position can potentially make real-time implementation unfeasible.

A vector of scale and orientation normalized Gaussian derivatives provides a characteristic vector for matching and indexing. The oriented Gaussian derivatives can easily be synthesized using the "steerability property" [39] of Gaussian derivatives. The problem is to determine the appropriate orientation. In earlier work by PRIMA members Colin de Verdiere [31] , Schiele [56] and Hall [43] , proposed normalising the local jet independently at each pixel to the direction of the first derivatives calculated at the intrinsic scale. This results for many view invariant image recognition tasks are described in the next section.

Key results in this area include

  • Fast, video rate, calculation of scale and orientation for image description with normalized chromatic receptive fields [34] .

  • Robust visual features for face tracking [41] , [40] .

  • Direct computation of time to collision over the entire visual field using rate of change of intrinsic scale [54] .

We have achieved video rate calculation of scale and orientation normalized Gaussian receptive fields using an O(N) pyramid algorithm [34] . This algorithm has been used to propose an embedded system that provides real time detection and recognition of faces and objects in mobile computing devices.

Applications have been demonstrated for detection, tracking and recognition of faces as well detection of emotions and posture at video rates.