Predator Algorithm

The more I go into Machine Vision, the more I get amazed by the Engineering behind the most common thing around me.

Now, this post is not abut something that we can see daily now, but I’m sure it’s gonna be soon among us. Very soon. I’m talking about the Predator Algorithm (originally named TLD), developed by czech scientist Zdenek Kalal. This algorithm is implemented in such a way that the computer learns continuously detecting the features and objects in it.

Yes, it learns and with time detects easily every object. But well, nothing better than a graphical explanation of what I’m trying to explain, by the inventor himself:

The creator of this algorithm had such a success that he already started his own company to start the implementation of this great Engineering tool: TLD Vision.

These are the kind of things that really inspire.

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The Fundamental Matrix song

Annoying, exciting, boring, awesome… Computer Vision and its applications might be sometimes a roller-coaster of emotions, but it is always a pleasure to work with. Some of those familiar with Vision systems, might be aware of some nice properties and most of all, some fancy tools that help us to play around with images and computers; but one important thing that no one should forget in this field is the so-called Fundamental Matrix. If you have still some doubts about its development, then here you have a bit of its application:

Looking for the lyrics. Well, I totally recommend you to go to the website of Daniel Wedge, the creator of this totally entertaining song.

Build your own 3D Scanner!

Yes, it is possible and you can do it. Actually you don’t have to be a total expert in programming or Maths. Yes yes, you have to know some good stuff, but being a nerd or a genius is not the point.

Gabriel Taubin, an Argentinian Mathematician researching in Brown University is in charge of this project and made it available for everyone, so if you have 3D Computer Vision as your hobby, then this is the perfect start. As I said, you don’t have to be an expert but you need to go deep into it and it will be totally amazing, I promise. Just have a look to the website:

BYO3S

The final results would be amazing and they provide every kind of tool that you may need. It seems that the used methods vary, but that’s just extra fun. I really encourage you to try it, because it’s cheap, fun and totally useful.

The following video is NOT of the project, but it shows you how accessible is to build your own 3D scanner.

But don’t forget the Kinect, boy!

Language Immersion

In my daily struggling trying to learn the German language I use to try new tools and techniques to improve my skills and be more understandable, but of course many times it doesn’t work just because “Deutsch ist eine verkackte Sprache” as my flatmate says.

But well, I love the goddamn language and I will always learn it. So I decided to install an extension for Chrome called “Language Immersion”, which is an experimental extension that changes randomly the words in the text of the websites that you are visualizing, so it mixes the normal text of your language with some words in the language you wanna learn. You can manage how deep you wanna be into the language ranging from Novice to Fluent (5 different levels)

Simple but an effective idea, isn’t it? Let me post the video that explains how this works:

I’ve tried it and after 5 minutes I stopped it. I think it was going worse than it should. Wasn’t helping at all. Now, I don’t consider myself an expert in German or that I express myself perfectly (nor in English) but I certainly find the translations really shitty. I can say it by now for German, which is a complex language that depends so much in the context and every word in a sentence makes sense when you know the other words too. If you have a sight of what Dativ, Akkusativ and other related things are, then you can get my point. The translation in Google Translate is not optimal and when the context is cut, it falls instantly like a drunk bitch with heels. I don’t wanna imagine it with Hungarian!

Is good that they are using the translation tool from Google, it is pretty massive. They even have Swahili and Yiddish available… but not Japanese! I know is another alphabet, but come on! They have Chinese!

Only 5 levels of immersion don’t give too much to play with. I was in the 4th and around 20 or 25% of the words were translated. Changed to the 5 and then all of them were translated.

A good thing is the possibility to highlight the translated words and when you don’t know the meaning you just click on the highlighted word or expression and it shows it back in the original language. But even better, if you wanna know how is it pronounced, you just hold the pointer over and it says it automatically. Of course you can disable all these features and even the extension itself whenever you want.

But yeah… is a shit and it actually could confuse more than it helps. A good idea with bad translations, few options to choose and a lack of intuition; but as I stated, it’s still experimental, the creators said. I hope gets better soon. By the moment I’ll kick it out of my Chrome.

The infinite monkey cage

Science and Comedy have been always connected everywhere because for radical and revolutionary ideas, it is needed a bit of humor and consideration. Both are groundbreaking and quite entertaining if you are in the proper mood.

However only few have had the balls to mix them, play around with them and success with it. One of them is the case of The infinite monkey cage, a comedy series produced by the BBC, where physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince discuss about the relevant topics in Science, such as the origin of life, Probability, Sound, Chemistry, etc.

Before the only science and rational debates mixed with comedy that worth watch were the ones of Bill Maher in his show, where in a round table he discusses different topics of the daily American lifestyle with many personalities. And it was good, politics, religion, science and other disciplines were part of this round table. However, the truly scientific point of view was some times missing due to… well… Bill Maher, although a really good and critical personality, has no scientific background.

This time TIMC offers us Profr. Brian Cox, a guy with an awesome personality and a complete understanding of “the stuff called Science”, and Robin Ince, the acid debater that pulls the attention of the public.

You can check them in the Apple Store if you wanna download their Podcasts, I highly recommend them to those who wanna embrace Knowledge and Reason in a funny way. Otherwise, you can also visit their channel in the BBC podcast website.

Long life TIMC!

My first day in Computer Vision

A new semester in the Uni has begun and in this second week I am already feeling the first pressured tasks. No probs, this time planning and hard work will be a constant besides a good health caring and exercise. Perhaps less Internet Facebook is what I need.

This semester I will struggle a bit with two very interesting courses: 3D Computer Vision and Image Understanding in English and German, respectively. Before I had “Machine Learning Method for Computer Vision Applications” in the same responsible chair but it was so few application and had other courses to attend that required more attention, so I couldn’t experience more in it. That’s gonna change in this semester.

Both courses are held by two very experienced professors. 3D CV is taught by Nassir Navab, whose experience in research is impressive, winning international awards and being a top recognized researcher in the world. He is going to be my lecturer in this Semester. He already began giving some introductory class showing the great advantages of 3D Computer Vision and, most of all, its applications. I was hypnotized, it was great and that’s why now I’m willing to share everything I learn and find in Internet about this matter. It’s really cool and exciting for me.

The second lecturer is Carsten Steger, who’s in charge of the class “Bildverstehen” (Image Understanding) that, as you may suppose, is in German. He is another experienced guy but his field is not in the Universities, it is the industry. He gives solution to real-life problems and that experience is shared in his class. My first impression of him is really good, he’s an open guy with a relaxed style and a very good idea of what he is talking about, besides he can truly explain himself.

Both good professors, both great courses, and an excellent semester to start experimenting with the sources of the student life. From now on you will probably see more often some posts related to Computer Vision, my new bitch (and vice versa).

But we will start with Computer Vision Online, the largest website about CV out there, I think. They offer the newest stuff about CV and its applications, besides some other curiosities and interesting sources, where you can find books, software and even you might find a suitable job for you if you are really into Computer Vision. There are tons of positions in many Universities and Labs. I recommend you to check it out!

And finally I share this video from the chair of Computer Aided Medical Procedures & Augmented Reality (CAMPAR) in the TUM, where the researchers just adapted a Kinect sensor and started to track a guy’s body to virtually visualize it as in a magic mirror. Watch it!

¡Ahí se ven!

The worst case of Homophobia in Mexico

Agustín walks down the streets in California. He is clearly sad, scared and tired. He has been escaping because he just wanted to reveal himself as what he is, but he has no money, no food and no family with him; yet, he represents the worst case of Homophobia in Mexico.

The teacher Agustín Estrada Negrete, holder of a PhD on Education, began as principal of “Centro de Atención Múltiple” (CAM) in Ecatepec, one of the poorest and most populated communities of the State of Mexico. He started with almost nothing and created a well organised education center for mentally challenged children. Besides that, looking at the poor conditions of the inhabitants, created workshops and gave resources and tools to the neighbors, so they could start their own business. He gave even from his own money to improve the conditions of the school and started a program to give education to elderly and parents. He was active and hardworking in the community helping every time he could.

By 2005 the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI), looking at the big influence of the professor in the community, asked him to support the Candidate for the Governance. Perhaps Agustín saw good proposals and a charismatic and young Candidate, so he accepted and helped him. The candidate for the PRI won.

In May 17th 2007, he was invited by the Human Rights Coordination to a rally at the International day against Homophobia. He went there on support and dressed up as in the movie “The Birdcage” making public his sexual preference.

Teachers under his charge were horrified at his opening and brought an action against him arguing that he had a wrong behavior and is a bad example for the community, but the community didn’t care about his preferences, they only saw a good professor and wanted him with them. The teacher replied with a complaint at the “National Council against Discrimination” but nothing was done.

He then goes to a meeting with the Governor of the State in the University of Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl exposing his case on the off chance that the Governor could review his case of injustice and help him, as he already knew the teacher and his reputation, besides he was helping him in his Campaign. Continue reading