Computer Vision is one of those technologies that has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years. If you look back 10 years, it wasn’t the case, as CV was more a topic of academic interest. Now, however, computer vision is clearly a driver and benefactor of the renowned Artificial Intelligence. Through this article, we’ll understand the factors that have sparked the rise of Computer Vision.
A billion $ market
You heard it right! Computer Vision is a billion dollar market, thanks to the likes of Intel, Amazon, Netflix, etc investing heavily in the technology’s development. And from the way events are unfolding, the market is expected to hit a record $ 17 billion, by 2023. That’s at a cumulative growth rate of over 7% per year, from 2018 to 2023. Now this is a joint figure for both the hardware and software components related to Computer Vision.
Under the spotlight
Let’s talk a bit about a few companies that are already taking advantage of Computer Vision, and are benefiting from it.
There are several large organisations that are investing heavily in Computer Vision. Last year, we saw Intel invest $15 Billion towards acquiring Mobileye, an Israeli auto startup. Intel published its findings stating that the autonomous vehicle market itself would rise to $ 7 Trillion by 2050. The autonomous vehicle industry will be one of the largest implementers of computer vision technology. These vehicles will use Computer Vision to “see” their surroundings and communicate with other vehicles.
Netflix on the other hand, is using Computer Vision for more creative purposes. With the rise of Netflix’s original content, the company is investing in Computer Vision to harvest static image frames directly from the source videos to provide a flexible source of raw artwork, which is used for digital merchandising.
For example, within a single episode of Stranger Things, there are nearly 86k static video frames, that would had to have been analysed by human teams to identify the most appropriate stills to be featured. This meant first going through each of those 86k images, then understanding what worked for viewers of the previous episode and then applying the learning in the selection of future images. Need I estimate how long that would have taken to do? Now, Computer Vision performs this task seamlessly, with a much higher accuracy than that of humans.
Pinterest, the popular social networking application, sees millions of images, GIFs and other visuals shared every day. In 2017, they released an application feature callen Lens, that allows users to use their phone’s camera to search for similar looking decor, food and clothing, in the real world. Users can simply point their cameras at an image and Pinterest will show them similar styles and ideas. Recent reports reveal that Pinterest’s revenue has grown by a staggering 58%!
National Surveillance in CCTV
The world’s biggest AI startup, SenseTime, provides China with the world’s largest and most sophisticated CCTV network. With over 170 Mn CCTV cameras, the government authorities and police departments are able to seamlessly identify people. They perform this by wearing smart glasses, that have facial recognition capabilities. Bring this technology to Dubai and you’ve got a supercop in a supercar! The nation-wide surveillance project that’s named Skynet, began as early as 2005, although recent advances in AI have given it a boost. Reading through discussions like these is real fun. People used to quip that such “fancy” machines are only for the screen. If only they knew that such a machine would be a reality just a few years from then.
Clearly, computer vision is one of the most highly valued commercial applications of machine learning and when integrated with AI, it’s an offer only a few can resist!
Star Acquisitions that matter
Several acquisitions have taken place in the field of Computer Vision in the past two years alone. The most notable of them being Intel’s acquisition of Movidius, to the tune of $400 Mn. Here are some of the others that have happened since 2016:
- Twitter acquires Magic Pony Technology for $150Mn
- Snap Inc acquires Obvious Engineering for $47 Mn
- Salesforce acquires Metamind for $32.8 Mn
- Google acquires Eyefluence for $21.6 Mn
This shows the potential of the computer vision market and how big players are in the race to dive deep into the technology.
Three little things driving computer vision
I would say there are 3 clear growth factors that are contributing to the rise of Computer Vision:
- Deep Learning
- Advancements in Hardware
- Growth of the Datasets
The advancements in the field of Deep Learning are bound to boost Computer Vision. Deep Learning algorithms are capable of processing tonnes of images, much more accurately than humans. Take Feature Extraction for example. The primary pain point with feature extraction is that you have to choose which features to look for in a given image. This becomes cumbersome and almost impossible when the number of classes you are trying to define, starts to grow. There are so many features, that you have to deal with a plethora of parameters, that have to be fine-tuned. Deep Learning simplifies this process for you.
Advancements in Hardware
With new hardware like GPUs capable of processing petabytes of data, algorithms are capable of running faster and more efficiently. This has led to the advancement in real-time processing and vision capabilities. Pioneering hardware manufacturers like NVIDIA and Intel are in a race to create more powerful and capable hardware to support deep learning capabilities for Computer Vision.
Growth of the Datasets
Training Deep Learning algorithms isn’t a daunting task anymore. There are plenty of open source data sets that you can choose from to train your algorithms. The more the data, the better is the training and accuracy. Here are some of the most notable data sets for computer vision.
- ImageNet with 15 million images, is a massive dataset
- Open Images has 9 million images
- Microsoft Common Objects in Context (COCO) has around 330K images
- CALTECH-101 has approximately 9,000 images
Where tha money at?
The job market for Computer Vision is on a rise too, with Computer Vision featuring at #3 on the list of top jobs in 2018, according to Indeed. Organisations are looking for Computer Vision Engineers who are well versed with writing efficient algorithms for handling large amounts of data.
So is it the right time to invest or perhaps learn Computer Vision? You bet it is! It’s clear that Computer Vision is a rapidly growing market and will have a sustained growth for the next few years. If you’re just planning to start out or even if you’re competent in using tools for Computer Vision, here are some resources to help you skill up with popular CV tools and techniques.