Student wins innovator award for image search technology

Dec. 5, 2007
DECEMBER 5, 2007--Kris Woodbeck, a master's student in the University of Ottawa's Computer Science program, has developed a image search technology to potentially outperform currently available engines.

DECEMBER 5, 2007--Currently, the major search engines have concentrated their efforts on dealing effectively with text, but they are lacking when it comes to analyzing visual data. Traditional methods of processing images are quite slow and cannot effectively handle large visual databases.

Kris Woodbeck, a master's student in the University of Ottawa Computer Science program, has developed a revolutionary image search technology with the potential to outperform currently available image search engines. Through his research, Woodbeck saw a convergence between modern computer graphics hardware and how the brain itself processes visual information. Realizing this, he began work on a high-speed, high-accuracy object recognition system based on the visual processing system of the brain.

This technology could have a major impact on the visual search market. The technology will be launched with a prototype search system that will establish user needs and enable the design and fine-tuning of the final architecture, to be embodied in a full-scale, commercial search engine that lets users search and browse the array of visual databases available on the Internet. For example, consumers would be able to browse product databases by object shape on sites such as eBay and Amazon.

The Technology Transfer and Business Enterprise (TTBE) office at the University of Ottawa ( and Kris Woodbeck are working together to secure the intellectual property rights and to establish the base for a successful start-up company in Ottawa. Financial support for the development of the prototype and the commercialization of this technology has been made possible by the Ottawa-Gatineau University-College Regional Innovation Alliance (funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada), the Ottawa Technology Transfer Network (funded by the Ontario Research Commercialization Program) and the Technology Transfer and Business Enterprise Office.

The competition for the Innovator of the Year Award is open to any student, staff, or faculty member at the University of Ottawa who, during the previous calendar year, discloses an opportunity to commercialize their research to the TTBE office. Previous winners are Xiaoyi Bao (2004), Abdelhamid Sayari (2005), and Daniel Krewski (2006).

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