What ist Computer Vision?

Computer vision (CV) is a field of study that utilizes artificial intelligence to enable computers to understand, analyze, and take action based on visual inputs. By using machine learning algorithms, computer vision is able to classify and identify objects in images and videos, allowing for automated actions to be taken. For example, a computer vision system can be trained to recognize images of humans and animals, and then use that data to take automated actions such as sorting them into different categories.

History and Evolution of Computer Vision

This groundbreaking technology with many exciting applications has its roots in the late 1960s with the goal of simulating the human visual system and endowing robots with intelligent behavior. Through the decades, researchers have explored various mathematical concepts, optimization frameworks, and image processing techniques to further this field and make it the cutting edge technology it is today.

Timeline of Computer Vision:

  • 1966: Idea to attach a camera to a computer and have it ‘describe what it saw’
  • 1970s: Extraction of edges from images, labeling of lines, 3D modeling, representation of objects as interconnections of smaller structures, optical flow and motion estimation
  • 1980s: Scale-space, shape inference from cues such as shading, texture and focus, contour models (snakes)
  • 1990s: Camera calibration, sparse 3D reconstructions of scenes from multiple images, dense stereo correspondence problem and multi-view stereo techniques, image segmentation with graph cuts
  • 2000s – present: Continued growth of computer vision in the fields of autonomous vehicles, facial recognition, healthcare, and more.

As of today, computer vision will continue to evolve, unlocking potential and helping us live safer, healthier and more comfortable lives.

Computer Vision History Timeline

Computer Vision in the World of AI

Computer vision plays an important role in our current AI-driven world. It is a field of computer science that focuses on replicating parts of the complexity of the human vision system and enabling computers to identify and process objects in images and videos in the same way that humans do. Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and innovations in deep learning and neural networks, the field has been able to take great leaps in recent years and has been able to surpass humans in some tasks related to detecting and labeling objects. With huge amounts of visual data being generated and the computing power available to analyze it, accuracy rates for object identification have increased significantly, making computer vision systems more accurate than humans at quickly reacting to visual inputs. This technology is being integrated into major products, and by 2022, the computer vision and hardware market is expected to reach $48.6 billion.

Computer Vision Vs. Human Vision

How does Computer Vision Work?

It is the field of artificial intelligence dedicated to the task of simulating the human ability to perceive and understand objects in the world. It involves a combination of image processing, feature extraction, and pattern recognition techniques to make sense of data captured from images or videos. In essence, computer vision is the science of teaching computers to interpret and understand the world.

Here is a step by step breakdown of how it works:

  • Model Training: Machine learning algorithms are used to teach the computer how to recognize patterns in the data it receives. This is done by feeding the computer large amounts of labeled data so that it can learn the patterns and relationships between objects. (Computer Vision Training Data)
  • Input Image Acquisition: Input images are the source of the data. They can be captured using cameras, drones, satellites, etc.
  • Image Processing: Once the images are acquired, they need to be pre-processed. This involves tasks such as image enhancement, noise removal, image segmentation, etc.
  • Feature Extraction: Features are the characteristics of the objects in the images which are extracted and used for further analysis. Features can be color, size, shape, texture, etc.
  • Pattern Recognition: The extracted features are then used to recognize patterns in the data. This step is the actual task of computer vision and involves the use of supervised and unsupervised machine learning algorithms to recognize objects in the images.
  • Interpretation: Once the objects have been identified, the data can then be interpreted to make sense of the scene and draw conclusions.

What are the Challenges of using Computer Vision?

There are still some challenges that must be overcome before it can be fully utilized. One of these challenges is understanding how human vision works. Perceptual psychologists have spent decades trying to crack this puzzle, but a complete solution still eludes them. Another challenge is the complexity of the visual world, which is full of infinite possibilities in terms of objects, orientation, lighting, and occlusion.

To address this, computers must be able to recognize patterns in the data, which can be done with the help of machine learning algorithms. Finally, computer vision must be able to account for different types of objects and their respective features. This can be achieved by using a variety of algorithms such as feature detection, object recognition, and object tracking. With the right combination of approaches, computer vision has the potential to unlock many useful insights.

What are the Advantages of using Computer Vision?

CV is an emerging technology with many exciting applications. It has the potential to improve accuracy, increase speed and efficiency, and automate tasks that humans would not be able to do on their own. The following table outlines some of the main benefits of computer vision:

AutomationAutomating processes with computer vision can help businesses increase efficiency and accuracy.
Faster AnalysisProcess images faster than humans, resulting in faster analysis of data.
Improved AccuracyAlgorithms can identify and classify objects with accuracy at or above human levels.
Detect Duplicates and DefectsIdentify duplicates and defects quickly and accurately, reducing errors.
Disaster RecoveryRecover data from damaged or corrupted images.
Improved SecurityIdentify and analyze people, places, and objects to improve security.

Applications of Computer Vision

It is a powerful tool that has a wide range of applications, from medical imaging to image editing and stitching. It enables computers to “see” and make decisions based on visual data, which can open up exciting new possibilities for businesses. With computer vision, organizations can better understand their environment, automate processes, and make better decisions more efficiently.

1. Facial Recognition

Computer vision uses deep learning and machine vision algorithms to detect and capture images of people’s faces. This data is then sent to the backend system for analysis and recognition. Facial recognition applications use computer vision algorithms to detect facial features in images and compare them with databases of face profiles. This technology enables computers to match images of people’s faces to their identities, allowing for authentication and security purposes. Consumer devices, social media apps, and law enforcement agencies rely on facial recognition technology to identify criminals in video feeds and track people for security missions. Facial recognition can also be used to detect and prevent criminal activities, making communities safer.

2. Object Recognition

Computer Vision enables machines to recognize people, places, and objects in images with accuracy that is either equal to or surpassing that of humans. This is achieved using deep learning models, which automate the extraction, analysis, classification, and understanding of useful information from a single image or a sequence of images. When it comes to Object Recognition, these models rely on various features such as the type of object, its location, and its key points in order to identify and differentiate one object from another. This technique has a variety of applications, from identifying defects in high speed assembly lines, to helping autonomous robots navigate, to analysing medical images, to recognizing products and people in social media.

3. Image and Video Analysis

It is a powerful tool for analyzing images and videos. Through deep learning models, it can accurately identify people, places, and things with much greater speed and efficiency than humans. This technology can be used in a variety of ways, such as detecting defects on high-speed assembly lines, allowing autonomous robots to navigate their environment, analyzing medical images, and recognizing products and people in social media. It can also be used for classical applications such as handwriting recognition, object classification, object identification, video motion analysis, image segmentation, scene reconstruction, and image restoration. In addition, its computational capabilities have greatly increased, making it possible to provide accurate analysis with minimal human input. Cloud computing has also made it easier to work with vast amounts of data and solve complex problems. All of this makes computer vision a powerful tool for image and video analysis.

4. Character Recognition

Character recognition is a popular application of computer vision, where machines can identify typewritten and handwritten text with accuracy at or above human levels. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology is often used to automate the extraction, analysis, classification and understanding of useful information from an image or a sequence of images. With the help of deep learning models and cloud computing, complex problems can be solved, allowing for higher accuracy with much greater speed and efficiency. This technology can also be applied to tasks such as retail (e.g. automated checkouts), medical imaging, fingerprint recognition and biometrics.

5. Image Search

This technology is used for image searches to identify people, places, and things. It utilizes deep learning models to automate the extraction, analysis, classification and understanding of useful information from single images or sequences of images. This data can be taken from various sources, including video sequences, multiple camera views, or three-dimensional data. The technology provides machines with the ability to recognize objects with accuracy and speed surpassing human levels, ultimately providing us with valuable insights and helping improve the quality of life.

6. Image Segmentation

In the field of computer vision, one common application is image segmentation, a technique that involves dividing an image into multiple sections by assigning different colors or tones to different areas. This enables each area to be identified independently, making it easier for computers to recognize and analyze each segment. For instance, a street scene can be segmented into various sections such as road, sidewalk, and buildings, allowing for separate recognition of each area. Additionally, image segmentation can be utilized to identify objects in an image by assigning each object a unique color or tone, enabling computers to distinguish between individual objects in a scene and facilitating accurate recognition and analysis.

7. Depth Perception

By using CV, machines can extract depth and 3D structure information from a single image. This ability is essential for robots and autonomous systems in order to move and manipulate the environment. Depth perception is achieved by mapping the disparity between the left and right views of a scene, allowing the computer to understand how far objects are from the camera and how they are positioned in space. Moreover, it can be used to detect objects at a distance and to recognize objects in cluttered environments. With this technology, machines can accurately identify and track objects, estimate their size and orientation, and more.

8. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

Computer Vision Virtual Reality Augmented Reality

Virtual and augmented reality enable users to experience immersive, interactive entertainment like never before. By detecting objects in the real world, computer vision algorithms help applications like Google Glass, and other smart eyewear, to overlay and embed virtual objects onto real world imagery. This groundbreaking technology can assess head movements, changes in expressions (Emotion Recognition), and even determine the location of a virtual object in the physical world. The popular Ikea Place app uses AR to help users decide if furniture will fit into their home. With computer vision, the possibilities are endless and are expected to reach even greater heights in the future.

Industries that utilize Computer Vision Technology

Industries are utilizing computer vision to revolutionize and take their processes to the next level. From startups to global manufacturers, computer vision is being used to automate quality control, robotic positioning, agricultural sorting, and many other tasks. Thanks to the introduction of faster hardware, reliable internet and cloud networks, computer vision is now much faster and more efficient than before. Companies such as Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft have contributed to the development of computer vision by open sourcing some of their machine learning work.

1. Retail and E-Commerce

The retail and e-commerce industry utilizes computer vision by enabling customers to have an interaction-free shopping experience. This technology is transforming the retail and e-commerce industries by enabling faster, smarter and more efficient solutions for customer experience and operations.

Here are some of the ways computer vision is used in Retail and E-Commerce:

  • Interaction-free Shopping Experiences: Companies like Amazon are leveraging computer vision to enable customers to ‘take and leave’ without the need for interaction with staff.
  • Loss Prevention: Retail stores are using AI vision solutions to monitor shopper activity in a non-intrusive and customer-friendly manner.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Analyze customer moods and help personalize ads and offers accordingly.
  • Maximizing ROI: AI-driven vision solutions are being used to maximize ROI through customer retention programs, inventory tracking, and the assessment of product placement strategies.
  • Facial Recognition: Companies like Apple and Microsoft use CV to create facial recognition capabilities to enable secure access and authentication.

To give an example, Amazon Go stores make use of computer vision to enable customers to walk in, grab what they need, and leave without having to wait in line or scan any items. Similarly, Walmart is also using AI-powered computer vision to track inventory and monitor customer foot traffic. With its ever-evolving potential, computer vision is expected to unlock a plethora of new technologies in the future, revolutionizing the retail and e-commerce industry.

2. Manufacturing

By leveraging the power of AI-enabled inspection systems, companies and researchers have been able to increase the efficiency and accuracy of their processes. Here are some examples of how computer vision is used in the Manufacturing industry:

  • Predictive maintenance systems use computer vision to detect likely breakdowns and low-quality products, allowing personnel to take preventative action.
  • Packaging and quality monitoring activities.
  • AI-powered product assembly is heavily employed on delicate items such as electronics, as demonstrated by companies such as Tesla.
  • In the wafer (A wafer is a thin, flat slice of semiconductor material – typically made of silicon – used in the manufacturing of integrated circuits and other electronic components) industry, computer vision is used to inspect wafers for flaws, ensuring that no unusable chips reach the market.
  • Optical sorting is used in the agricultural industry to remove undesirable food stuff from bulk material.
Computer Vision Traffic

3. Transportation

This table provides an overview of the applications in the transportation industry, such as detecting traffic signal violators, analyzing traffic flow and detecting speeding and wrong‐side driving violations.

Autonomous VehiclesExtensively in autonomous vehicles to detect objects, interpret road signs and markings, and make decisions on steering, accelerating, and braking.
Traffic ManagementMonitoring and managing traffic, including detecting and analyzing congestion, monitoring and managing parking spaces, and identifying and enforcing traffic violations.
Safety SystemsSafety systems to detect and alert drivers to potential hazards such as pedestrians, cyclists, or other vehicles.
Fleet ManagementTracking and managing fleets of vehicles, including monitoring vehicle locations, identifying maintenance needs, and optimizing routing and scheduling.
Cargo InspectionInspecting cargo containers and identifying potential security threats or prohibited items, such as weapons, drugs, or contraband.
Rail InspectionScanning railway tracks, identifying potential defects or maintenance needs, and ensuring the safety and reliability of the rail system.
Airport SecurityIdentifying potential security threats or prohibited items, such as weapons, explosives, or liquids, and for ensuring the safety of passengers and airport personnel.

4. Security and Safety

Computer vision is a key component of security and safety systems today. It is being used to help detect, track and identify potential threats in real time. The technology is being used in a variety of sectors including law enforcement.

For example, facial recognition systems use computer vision to identify people or objects and provide real-time alerts for potential security threats. Companies such as ClearView AI, NEC and Vigilant Solutions use facial recognition combined with other AI technologies to help law enforcement agencies identify potential suspects.

There are surveillance systems to detect motion, recognize faces and other objects, and track objects in real-time. Companies such as Hikvision, Axis Communications and Avigilon use computer vision to create powerful surveillance systems that can help prevent crime, improve security and increase safety.

Overall, computer vision is leading to security and safety by providing real-time alerts that help keep people and property safe.

5. Healthcare

Computer Vision Healthcare

Computer vision is being integrated into the healthcare industry, bringing a revolution to the way medical professionals work. Below are some of the ways it is being used in healthcare:

  • Detecting cancerous moles in skin images or finding symptoms in x-ray and MRI scans
  • Gesture recognition, heart rate monitoring, mask detection, and body pose estimation in a hospital room to detect falls
  • Medical imaging, medical devices with streaming video, and smart hospitals

Tools and Companies:

  • NVIDIA’s industry-specific software products and platforms
  • Google Cloud’s Healthcare API
  • IBM Watson Health
  • Microsoft Healthcare NExT
  • Arterys Medical Imaging Solutions
  • Zebra Medical Vision
  • Siemens Healthineers
  • Sensely Medical Virtual Assistant.

6. Construction

Drones take detailed aerial images of construction sites that can be analyzed for potential hazards or structural issues. Additionally, 3D imaging can be used to create precise plans and models that enable construction workers to visualize their work and make better decisions. Computer vision technology can also be used to recognize workers and vehicles on the site, allowing for better resource management and improved safety protocols.

Finally, computer vision algorithms can be used to detect cracks and other defects in structures and materials, ensuring that the highest quality standards are maintained during the construction process.

7. Gaming

Computer Vision Gaming

In the gaming industry, computer vision creates immersive gaming experiences for players.

Examples of computer vision tools and companies in the gaming industry include:

  • Nvidia’s GeForce Experience, which uses CV to optimize gaming performance;
  • SteamVR Tracking, which uses CV to track virtual reality headsets;
  • Microsoft’s Project Natal, which uses CV to recognize body movements;
  • Sony’s Move controller, which uses CV to track the position of players in a room;
  • Oculus Quest, which uses computer vision to create a more realistic virtual reality experience.

For further research: AI in Gaming.

Popular Computer Vision Tools

CV is an AI-powered solution that enables computers to understand and interpret visuals just like humans do. With the help of computer vision, computers can recognize objects, identify faces, analyze body language, and much more. To reap the full benefits of computer vision, you need to use the right tools.

The Top 8 popular computer vision tools and services are:

  • clickworker®: Offers customized datasets for computer vision with a large variety of images to choose from. It provides access to high-quality annotated images for a variety of use cases, including object detection, segmentation, and classification.
  • Pros: Access to high-quality images with accurate annotations, low cost of access, and easy scalability. Managed and Self Service with fully customized data for your specific needs.

    Cons: May take a period of time before the data is usable, as training data, specifically for the requirements, is created by the crowd.

  • Computer Vision Toolbox™: This toolbox provides algorithms, functions, and apps for designing and testing computer vision, 3D vision, and video processing systems. It can perform object detection and tracking, as well as feature detection, extraction, and matching. It also supports 3D vision, visual and point cloud SLAM, stereo vision, structure from motion, and point cloud processing.
  • Pros: Automates ground truth labeling and camera calibration workflows, can train custom object detectors using deep learning and machine learning algorithms, provides object detection and segmentation algorithms, accelerates algorithms by running them on multicore processors and GPUs, supports C/C++ code generation.

    Cons: Limited platforms (Windows and macOS only).

  • OpenCV: Open source computer vision library with more than 2500 algorithms for real-time image processing. It supports facial recognition, object detection, and object tracking, as well as machine learning and deep learning algorithms.
  • Pros: Open source and free, supports facial recognition, object detection, and object tracking, supports machine learning and deep learning algorithms, supported on Windows, Mac, Linux, and iOS.

    Cons: Complexity of the codebase and lack of documentation.

  • Amazon Rekognition: AWS-powered computer vision service that helps you identify objects, people, text, scenes, and activities in images and videos. It supports facial recognition, object detection, and object tracking.
  • Pros: Facial recognition, object detection, and object tracking, supports various programming languages, fast and accurate.

    Cons: Costly compared to other computer vision services.

  • Tensorflow: Open source machine learning library used for building and training neural networks. It supports image classification, object detection, and image segmentation.
  • Pros: Open source and free, supports image classification, object detection, and image segmentation, supported on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

    Cons: Complexity of the codebase.

  • MATLAB: A powerful computing platform that integrates computation, visualization, and programming. It supports computer vision algorithms such as object detection, motion detection, and image segmentation.
  • Pros: Supports computer vision algorithms such as object detection, motion detection, and image segmentation, integrates computation, visualization, and programming, supported on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

    Cons: Expensive pricing plans.

  • Cloudinary: Image management and manipulation service that enables you to upload, store, manage, and deliver images. It supports facial recognition, object detection, and object tracking.
  • Pros: Facial recognition, object detection, and object tracking, supports various programming languages, fast and accurate.

    Cons: Limited customization options.

  • Google Vision AI: Cloud-based computer vision service that helps you identify objects, faces, text, and landmarks in images and videos. It supports image classification, object detection, and image segmentation.
  • Pros: Supports image classification, object detection, and image segmentation, supports various programming languages, fast and accurate.

    Cons: Costly compared to other computer vision services.

In the future, the potential applications of this technology are endless. As computer vision continues to be refined and developed, it could be used for a variety of new and innovative applications. For example, computer vision could be perfected to detect anomalies in medical scans and X-rays, monitor traffic patterns, and enable autonomous vehicle navigation.

Additionally, CV could be used to better detect and identify objects in real-time. This could open up new opportunities for automated security systems and improve facial recognition. Moreover, computer vision could be used in artificial intelligence and robotics to enable more advanced and autonomous machines.

Ultimately, it has the potential to revolutionize the way we live and work, and its applications in the future could be limitless.


In conclusion, computer vision is a powerful and fast-growing technology that is already being used in many areas of our lives, from autonomous vehicles to facial recognition. It has the potential to benefit humanity in a variety of ways. As technology continues to advance, so too does the potential of CV and its ability to create more sophisticated artificial intelligence systems. Therefore, it is important that we continue to invest in research and development to ensure that the advantages of this technology are maximized.

Computer Vision – FAQ

What is Machine Learning and how is it used in Computer Vision?

Machine learning is a method of data analysis that automates analytical model building. It is a branch of artificial intelligence based on the idea that systems can learn from data, identify patterns and make decisions with minimal human intervention. In computer vision, machine learning is used to automatically identify objects in images or videos.

What are the types of algorithms used in Computer Vision?

There are many types of algorithms used, but the most common are image processing and feature extraction algorithms.

What are the different types of data used in Computer Vision?

There are three types of data used in CV applications: images, videos, and depth maps. Images are the most common type of data used, as they can be easily captured and processed by computers. Videos are also commonly used, as they can provide a continuous stream of data that can be analyzed to detect objects or people in a scene. Depth maps are less common but can be used to create a three-dimensional representation of a scene, which can be useful for applications such as object recognition or navigation.

What are the benefits of using Computer Vision in businesses?

It can help automate tasks, improve efficiency and accuracy, and provide insights that would otherwise be hidden. Additionally, it can help improve customer experiences, enable new applications and business models, and open up new markets.

What are the implications of using Computer Vision for privacy?

There are a few implications for privacy. The first is that it can be used to track people without their knowledge or consent. This could potentially be used for nefarious purposes, such as stalking or identity theft. Additionally, the use of Computer Vision could lead to facial recognition being integrated into surveillance systems. This would grant law enforcement and other government agencies the ability to easily identify and track individuals. While this could be used for positive purposes, such as catching criminals or finding missing persons, it could also be abused to infringe on people's privacy rights.

How has Computer Vision evolved over the years?

Computer vision has evolved significantly over the years, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning. These days, computer vision is used for a wide range of tasks, from security and surveillance to self-driving cars and facial recognition.

What is computer vision processing?

Computer vision processing is the ability of a computer to interpret and understand digital images. This process typically involves analyzing an image and understanding its contents so that it can be properly displayed, stored, or converted into another format.