Automated baked-goods identification can benefit businesses

Researchers at the University of Hyogo, alongside Brain Corporation, have created a computer-vision system that works to develop individual baked goods in a second.

The system had its first test-run at a bakery in Tokyo, where employers are benefitting. This is because their new employees who haven’t yet learned the ropes, or part-timers who don’t know the name of every kind of baked good, can still work the cash registers. Additionally, when there are long lines, it can speed up the check-out process, making the entire operation run more efficiently and smoothly.

While the system works relatively well, there still are some kinks to work out. For example, baked goods are easily distinguish by their shapes and toppings, but when it comes to sandwiches, the machine has a tougher time telling them apart.

Luckily, there are other companies out there with the technology to build even better versions of this same sample system. For example, the people at ImageGraphicsVideo can build a similar system which also has a learning capability. This means that whoever is using the system can input, or “teach,” new items to the computer. Not only that, but the user can point out when items are incorrectly identified, which the program then learns and uses in the future to avoid making the same mistakes.

ImageGraphicsVideo takes Kinect one step further

Kinect was first released in late 2010 as a hands-free controller for the Xbox 360. The webcam-like motion sensor allows users to use gestures and spoken commands in order to communicate with the device. And although it was initially released as a gamer tool, the implications for its use extend far beyond that.

The Xbox version of Kinect has sold 18 million copies worldwide since its release. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that a new version, Kinect for PC, will be available for purchase on Feb. 1 in the countries of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Whereas the old version of Kinect is available for as low at $129 on Amazon, the retail price for the PC version is $249 for those in the United States. However, where owners of the latter can download the Kinect Software Development Kit in order to enable the Xbox sensor to work with a PC, Microsoft has shared that the new Kinect for Windows sensor is specifically catered to work with PC systems. And although some users may be reluctant to shell out that kind of money, the price tag of $249 is actually a low cost when you consider the possibilities of what Kinect can help do or accomplish.

There are also rumors that Microsoft is teaming up with ASUS to roll out a line of notebooks featuring Windows 8 and Kinect functionality.

One noticeable difference for Kinect users is that they will be able to use their hands and voices to interact with the computer, which could eliminate the need for a keyboard or a mouse. This will likely prompt application developers to begin re-imagining the design and functionality of apps.

Although Kinect is primarily used with video games, its capabilities for use of facial recognition, voice recognition, and 3D scanning enable it to do so much more. These kinds of uses were discovered by hackers and software developers alike; this is part of what prompted Microsoft’s decision to make Kinect available for computers, so developers will be able to harness its power and expand upon its probable uses.

In addition, Kinect can be used in conferences, where using keyboards and mice can sometimes interrupt the flow of a presentation or meeting. Doctors could benefit from Kinect, saving time by using it to access information about a patient or procedure in the middle of operations, as opposed to scrubbing out, finding the information on a separate computer, and scrubbing back in. Students can also benefit from the software, particularly in anatomy-based courses.

Practical applications aside, one company, ImageGraphicsVideo, develops software the utilizes Kinect for a variety of other purposes. The information obtained from Kinect is done using motion sensors and a scanner, which can calculate biometric data about your body, or another object in front of it.

Using Kinect’s capabilities, combined with its own self-developed software, it is able to create 3d models of objects or entire rooms. Another use for this software is to collect measurement data in order to create custom-tailored clothing. And that’s just the beginning.

Using a depth camera and a series of measurements, the company is able to create 3D digital images, which can then be used to analyze information or control processes. With information obtained, the company works to create custom software based on a customer’s specific needs. In other words, the only real limit is simply one’s imagination.

Reverse image search technology available with Google

Technology that powers reverse image searching is one of the latest rollouts from Google, as the company’s search function has expanded in recent months.

The feature, which was first introduced to a select audience in June, is now available to the general public. According to the Google Images Help page, Google makes use of computer vision technologies to match an image to similar ones in the Google index and associated databases, and returns “best guess” results, which include both text and other image results.

This comes alongside news from six weeks ago of Google purchasing a facial recognition company, and for many, brings up concerns of what Google will be capable of by combining these like technologies.

However, the aforementioned kinds of concerns are likely premature, if not entirely unwarranted, as the type of technology in question is able to search for generic objects, whereas the possibility of returning results as specific as faces is unrealistic – at least at this point.

Although what Google is doing is on a large, corporate scale, there are smaller companies, such as ImageGraphicsVideo, which are creating similar types of software which companies can implement to do similar, industry-specific tasks. And understanding the capabilities of Google in regards to its image search is merely the first step in unraveling what computer-vision software is able to do in other realms.