The science of electronically acquiring, analyzing and understanding images in ways superior to the human brain will be the focus of a new research center at the University of Central Florida. The Center for Research in Computer Vision, or CRCV, will be led by Mubarak Shah, UCF’s expert in the field, and report to the Office of Research & Commercialization.
Shah specializes in developing the theory and algorithms used for such disparate tasks as scanning crowd scenes for suspicious people, analyzing brain scans for tumors, indexing and effectively searching a large database of images and videos, and triggering a warning when a car or person approaches a railroad crossing when a train is near.
The CRCV will put UCF in a position to capture major grants in this developing research area and support more local industries that can benefit from the technology, said MJ Soileau, vice president for research & commercialization.
“We want to build on Dr. Shah’s expertise and be in the forefront of this important field,” Soileau said.
Computer vision is the science of acquiring and processing images and videos and using computational methods for analyzing and understanding them. Since 1986 Shah has run UCF’s computer vision laboratory which has trained hundreds of students in the science behind computer vision and its use in crowd surveillance, visual tracking, human behavior analysis, determining a geo-spatial location of an image using only the contents of the image contents, unmanned aerial video analysis and bio-medical image analysis.
Shah relies extensively on algorithms which allow computers to duplicate the analytical abilities of humans, only much faster and without error.
The work is important to many high-tech industries because it allows scientists to rapidly monitor and leverage large amounts of video without constant human monitoring.
“The proliferation of video sensors creates more visual data than humans can effectively review, categorize, and understand. The algorithms being developed by Dr. Shah’s team help automate the process, providing ‘intelligent triage’ to focus on important events and analyze information over long time intervals” said Jeff Pridmore, vice president of Applied Research at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.
Shah said his vision for the CRCV is to hire world class faculty – three positions have initially been approved – and encourage existing faculty and industry leaders to utilize the center.
“The more resources we have the more high-quality students and faculty we can attract and this will help us move to the next era of computer vision research and education at UCF. This will also increase our capacity for large projects in order to provide world-class research to local high-tech industries” he said.
Specifically Shah is interested in working with faculty at UCF’s College of Medicine on projects such as automatic tracking of E. coli bacteria and early cancer detection, and with the Institute for Simulation and Training and fellow researchers in the College of Engineering and Computer Science on developing robots and driverless cars navigated by computerized sensors.
“There are many areas we can use the technology once we have the bandwidth,” he said.
In addition to starting the computer vision lab, Shah has run UCF’s longest Research Experience for Undergraduates program funded by the National Science Foundation, bringing dozens of high school students to UCF each summer and immersing them in the research environment.
He has been honored with several awards, including Pegasus Professor, the highest award given by UCF to a faculty member who has made a significant impact on the university. He has a Ph.D. from Wayne State University and is a fellow of IEEE, AAAS, IAPR and SPIE, the largest professional organizations in his field.