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Financial Times, Creative Business Supplement  18/03/03

Machines that see more clearly  
By Alan Cane  

Reproduced by kind permission of

Dr Who's Daleks managed with an inverted sink plunger, but most machine-vision systems struggle to "see" the real world through humanoid eyes. The problem is that the processes by which the brain interprets visual stimuli are not completely understood, so it is hard to create the electronic equivalent.Which does not, of course, prevent engineers trying.

The Hungary-based company AnaLogic has been developing processors which it likens to the eye's retina. Now a Cambridge-based start-up, break-step productions, has a software solution which its managing director, Patrick Andrews, says is based on neurophysiology. The system can recognise a broad range of objects as opposed to, say, only text or industrial components.

The system, called Foveola, can interpret the edges of an object under scrutiny so that a unique mathematical signature can be generated. It can only recognise things it has seen before, but its memory is cumulative - once seen not forgotten.

Because of its small size and low cost, Andrews believes Foveola has immediate application in educational toys and interactive robots, as well as in brand protection and detecting forged company logostyles on the internet.

© 2003 The Financial Times Limited
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