Vision Insider Blog

THIS MONDAY: Early-bird deadline 2015 Innovators Awards program

Dec 19, 2014

The Vision Systems Design team is pleased to announce the 2015 Innovators Awards program, which recognizes and rewards the most innovative products and services in the global machine vision and image processing industry.
 

Student builds a camera inside a Lego

Dec 4, 2014 Much of what we cover on Vision Systems Design is rather technical, or at least serious in nature. From time to time on the blog, I like to take a look at off-beat, fun, or interesting bits of news, such as sharks eating cameras attached to robots, or the innovative use of a digital cinema camera...

FAA granted authority to fine UAV operators

Nov 19, 2014 This past March, I wrote about the case of Raphael Pirker, a 29-year-old who used an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to film a commercial at the University of Virginia. In this case, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) filed a case against Pirker for flying a drone commercially.  

VISION 2014 thoughts and takeaways

Nov 10, 2014 To articulately summarize my entire VISION experience would require an extensive amount of writing and reflection. Throughout the course of the next few weeks, I do, in fact, intend to provide summaries of the interviews I had with the 20-some-odd international vision companies on the show floor....

Crime fighting with Google Glass

Oct 7, 2014

Earlier this summer, we reported that The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS were adapting its SHORE real-time face detection and analysis software for the Google Glass.
 

Innovative music video made with a Kinect and modified digital cinema camera

Sep 29, 2014

San Francisco-based ambient music artist Tycho released a music video for the song "See" from the 2014 album “Awake" that makes clever use of a Microsoft Kinect and a modified RED Epic camera.
 

FAA approves commercial use of UAVs for filmmaking

Sep 26, 2014

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued just its second approval of commercial UAV flights, with six permits being given to film and television production companies for the purpose of aerial video capture.
 

Nova Scotia RCMP UAV

Canadian police use UAV to find family lost in forest

Sep 10, 2014 Two months ago in July, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Nova Scotia unveiled a new fleet of vision-enabled UAVs for purposes that include crash scene investigation, search and rescue, and emergency response. A few months later, one of these UAVs successfully located two adults and their 17-m...

UAVs to patrol for illegal poachers in Africa

Sep 5, 2014 Having recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, AREND (Aircraft for Rhino and Environmental Defense)—an international non-profit group—is set to deploy vision-guided unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in order to detect illegal poaching in Africa’s national parks.  

Great white shark attacks autonomous tracking robot on camera

Aug 6, 2014 Last summer, we wrote about a vision-enabled autonomous underwater vehicle developed by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Oceanographic Systems Laboratory that is designed to track and capture up-close footage of a great white shark off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts for a Discovery ...

Commercial UAV pilots arrested for flying in Manhattan

Aug 1, 2014 If you’ve been keeping track of the state of commercial UAVs and their usage, you know that the FAA recently gave BP and UAV manufacturer AeroVironment permission to fly the first commercial UAV to fly over land for the purposes of aerial surveys over Alaska’s North Slope. While this is most defi...

More computer vision technology for pets

Jul 25, 2014

Not long ago, I wrote about an app called PetMatch that uses computer vision algorithms for image recognition purposes that enables a user to find a dream pet or find a lookalike to a previous pet, all in their area.

 

 

2014 poised for significant machine vision industry growth

Jul 17, 2014 All signs are pointing toward a record year for sales in the global machine vision industry. A report recently released from Allied Vision Technologies indicates that the camera manufacturer closed the first half of 2014 with historic sales and volume figures that far exceeded plan.

The beautiful side of UAVs

Jul 3, 2014

Whether you are for them or against them, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are an oft-discussed topic—this blog not-excluded.
Much of the talk about UAVs, or as some like to call them, drones, seems to focus on the negative, or at least, the risks involved.

Finding the perfect pet with machine vision technology

Jun 30, 2014

An app called PetMatch from startup Superfish utilizes machine vision algorithms for image recognition purposes in order to help you find your dream pet, or find a lookalike to previous pet, in your area.
 

FAA approves flight of first commercial UAV

Jun 12, 2014

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted permission to BP and UAV manufacturer to fly the first commercial UAV to fly over land for the purposes of aerial surveys over Alaska’s North Slope.

Personal companion robot reads human emotions

Jun 9, 2014 In one of our recent blogs, we took a look at the idea of robots working and interacting alongside people. Two experts who spoke at the Collaborative Robots Workshop at the AIA Vision Show suggested that “Human acceptance” in relation to robots is an important area to keep an eye on as more robot...

3D scanning "cyber tape measure" system raises privacy concerns

May 30, 2014

An Australian company called mPort has developed a 3D imaging pod designed to capture near-naked body scans and data for custom-made clothes and fashion. While the concept is novel, the issue of privacy is being called into question.

FAA considering the approval of small commercial UAVs

May 20, 2014

In an effort to make it so commercial flights such as these are permitted, is FAA is now considering a streamlined approval process for flights of small UAVs for filmmaking, utilities inspection, agriculture, and other low-risk operations

Companion robots: Start of something big?

May 9, 2014

A new study out of Penn State indicates that older adults fear that these companion robots—which provide emotional support and interact with users as they go about their day—will negatively impact young people.

Obama: Humanoid robot "a little scary"

Apr 24, 2014

During the first ever Collaborative Robots Workshop held during the AIA Vision Show in Boston, two experts in the field of robots spoke about the importance of human-robot acceptance.

Google continues robotic push with purchase of UAV company

Apr 15, 2014 When it comes to the robotics industry, Google has been plenty busy making headlines over the past year or so. These headlines include the purchase of eight robotic companies, including Boston Dynamics—a company that develops mobile robots for the U.S. military, as well as news that Google would ...

An optometrist's take on smartphones for eye imaging

Mar 19, 2014

I recently came across an article describing a system developed by Stanford researchers in which a smartphone (in this case, an iPhone), was used to capture high-quality images of the front and back of the eye.

Commercial UAVs legal, but for how long?

Mar 11, 2014

A recent ruling from a federal judge indicates that there is no official legally-binding rule against the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, despite the widespread notion that flying them is, in fact, illegal.

Vision at the Sochi Olympics

Feb 14, 2014 Hockey aside (Go USA), I am just as much interested in the non-event stories on the Sochi Olympics than I am the actual competition. Olympic Village rumors, hotel horror stories, and stray dog roundups are just some of the highlights I’ve come across. Anyway, I recently found myself perusing thro...

Build your own supercomputer

By Andy Wilson
Many image processing tasks are computationally intensive. As such, system integrators are always on the lookout for any means that will help them to accelerate their application software.

One way to do this is to determine whether an application could be optimized -- either by hand or by using optimization tools such as Vector Fabrics' (Eindhoven, The Netherlands) Pareon -- to enable it to take advantage of the many processing cores that are in the latest microprocessors from AMD and Intel.

If an application can be considered to be easily separated into a number of parallel tasks -- such as those known in the industry as "embarrassingly parallel problems" -- then the only limitation the systems integrator has is how to source enough inexpensive processors to perform the task.

Fortunately, since the advent of the GPU, cores are plentiful. As such, many engineers are harnessing the power of games engines such as GE Force’s GTX 470 -- which sports no less than 448 CUDA cores and 1GByte of memory -- to vastly accelerate their image processing applications .

Now in a few cases where engineers really need to harness even more hardware power, they have only one alternative -- build it themselves. That, indeed, is exactly what engineers at the Air Force Research Laboratory (Rome, NY, USA) have done.

Their massive supercomputer -- which was developed for the Air Force for image processing tasks -- is ranked as one of the fortieth fastest computers in the world. Yet, believe it or not, it has been constructed by wiring together no less than 1,700 off-the-shelf PlayStation 3 gaming consoles !


Now if you are anything like me, you are probably wondering how you might be able to design such a beast yourself, while doing so without shelling out an inordinate sum of money to buy so many Sony games consoles.

If you do, you might like to check out the web page of Professor Simon Cox from the University of Southampton (Southampton, UK), who, together with a team of computer scientists at the university (and his six year old son James) has built a supercomputer out of Raspberry Pi's , a rats nest of cables and an awful lot of Lego.

"As soon as we were able to source sufficient Raspberry Pi computers we wanted to see if it was possible to link them together into a supercomputer. We installed and built all of the necessary software on the Pi starting from a standard Debian Wheezy system image," says Professor Cox.

The machine, named "Iridis-Pi" after the university's Iridis supercomputer, runs off a single 13A mains socket and uses a Message Passing Interface to enable the processing nodes to communicate over Ethernet. The system has a total of 64 processors and 1Tb of memory (16GByte SD cards for each Raspberry Pi).

Now I'm not about to claim that this supercomputer is going to rank up there with the PlayStation-based system built for the US Air Force, but it certainly would be a fun project to build and experiment on. And at a price of under $4000, who wouldn't want to give it a go?

Fortunately, for those interested in doing so, the learned Professor has published a step-by-step guide so you can build your own supercomputer Raspberry Pi supercomputer without too much effort.

The Southampton team wants to see the low-cost supercomputer used to enable students to tackle complex engineering and scientific challenges. Maybe the system isn't really the most cost effective way to do that, but it certainly is inspirational.

Editor's note:  PA Consulting Group and the Raspberry Pi Foundation have teamed up to challenge schoolchildren, students and computer programmers to develop a useful application using a Raspberry Pi that will make the world a better place. I'm sure they would welcome ideas from the imaging community! Details on the competition can be found here .