Simple 'smart' glass reveals the future of artificial vision

phys.org | 4/18/2019 | Staff
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The sophisticated technology that powers face recognition in many modern smartphones someday could receive a high-tech upgrade that sounds—and looks—surprisingly low-tech.

This window to the future is none other than a piece of glass. University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers have devised a method to create pieces of "smart" glass that can recognize images without requiring any sensors or circuits or power sources.

Optics - Setup - Cameras - Sensors - Networks

"We're using optics to condense the normal setup of cameras, sensors and deep neural networks into a single piece of thin glass," says UW-Madison electrical and computer engineering professor Zongfu Yu.

Yu and colleagues published details of their proof-of-concept research today in the journal Photonics Research.

Intelligence - Objects - Concept - Glance - Something

Embedding artificial intelligence inside inert objects is a concept that, at first glance, seems like something out of science fiction. However, it's an advance that could open new frontiers for low-power electronics.

Now, artificial intelligence gobbles up substantial computational resources (and battery life) every time you glance at your phone to unlock it with face ID. In the future, one piece of glass could recognize your face without using any power at all.

Route - Machine - Vision - Yu

"This is completely different from the typical route to machine vision," says Yu.

He envisions pieces of glass that look like translucent squares. Tiny strategically placed bubbles and impurities embedded within the glass would bend light in specific ways to differentiate among different images. That's the artificial intelligence in action.

Proof - Concept - Engineers - Method - Glass

For their proof of concept, the engineers devised a method to make glass pieces that identified handwritten numbers. Light emanating from an image of a number enters at one end of the glass, and then focuses to one of nine specific spots on the other side, each corresponding to individual digits.

The glass was dynamic enough to detect, in real-time, when a handwritten 3 was altered to become an 8.

Fact - Complex

"The fact that we were able to get this complex...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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