Computer Vision: Saving Lives and Improving Profits

Computer vision uses artificial intelligence to allow a computer to understand an object or its surroundings. (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)
Computer vision uses artificial intelligence to allow a computer to understand an object or its surroundings. (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

As machine learning and AI are being integrated into business operations, a new economic era is opening up. One technology that is at the forefront of this revolution is computer vision, which basically refers to a machine’s visual analysis of an object and its surroundings.

“Computer vision describes the process when a computer using artificial intelligence algorithms can identify and process images (photos, videos, etc.) and then create an appropriate output from the analysis because the computer can actually ‘understand’ the content. Specifically, computer vision can classify, identify, verify, and detect objects,” according to Forbes.

An example of a successful computer vision implementation is Snapchat. With over 200 million daily active users, one of its most popular features is the augmented reality masks that have been made possible due to computer vision. The UK’s Royal Mail started using computer vision to convert addresses into machine-readable code. Although it spent US$185 million to set this up, the tech now allows for next day deliveries on a massive scale. Here are a few industries that can benefit from the use of computer vision.

(Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

The UK’s Royal Mail uses computer vision to convert addresses into machine-readable code allowing them to make next day deliveries on a massive scale. (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

Manufacturing industry

Combining computer vision with the Internet of things (IoT) can allow businesses to identify potential failures in the production process. Abnormalities and defects in products can be identified early on, allowing businesses to adhere to the highest standards. When manufacturing medicines, variables like color, weight, number, and form of the pills are critical. Using computer vision, bottles with pills that do not conform to the guidelines can be identified and rejected automatically. The technology can be used to read miniature barcodes on products moving along a production line, thereby eliminating the need for hand scanning and saving a ton of time.

Financial sector

Companies can use images from satellites and drones to look at geographic data and predict economic trends. For instance, pictures of land being used for agriculture can reveal a trend that might lead to potential food shortages or excess supplies, enabling investors to make better decisions. Real estate investors can identify construction trends using computer vision to decide which areas in a city to invest in. Insurance companies can use the technology to check the features of a client’s property like the roof or its surroundings that might influence the policy, thereby bypassing the need to send in actual inspectors.

Retail and e-commerce

With computer vision, people can take pictures of a product they like and immediately get a list of nearby stores that carry the item or receive offers from e-commerce platforms. Cortexica’s visual search tool allows people to take photos from magazines or even drag images right from social media to find a store. Stores can avoid hiring cashiers by using computer vision technologies. A good example would be the Amazon Go store in Seattle where products taken from the shelves are tracked and billed automatically. Customers can simply pick up what they want and be on their way.

(Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

Products taken from the shelves at the Amazon Go store in Seattle are tracked and billed automatically. (Image: Screenshot / YouTube)

Healthcare

Computer vision can be trained to identify brain injuries and strokes on CT scan images faster than doctors. This can be critical in time-sensitive situations when a quick analysis of the image is necessary to save a patient. During surgery, computer vision can allow doctors to see a 3D model of internal organs in real-time, enabling precise treatments.

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