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Second Patent of the Year Awarded to Asari of ODU'S Vision Lab

The U.S. Patent Office has awarded another patent to Vijayan Asari, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Vision Lab at Old Dominion University, for a video-enhancement technology that helps to define images in low-lighting conditions and can be used in numerous security and military applications.

The patented technology, titled "Visibility Improvement in Color Video Stream," is the outcome of one of the research activities by Asari and Li Tao, who was an ODU graduate student at the Vision Lab when the application was filed in 2005. Tao graduated in 2006 with a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering and currently is a senior scientist at Samsung Technologies in Irvine, Calif.

This latest patent, which was awarded on Sept. 23, comes just five months after Asari was awarded a patent titled "Color Image Characterization, Enhancement and Balancing" together with Ming-Jung Seow, a former graduate student in Vision Lab. Seow graduated in 2006 with a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering and currently works as a senior scientist at Behavioral Recognition Systems (BRS) Labs in Houston.

The visibility improvement in a color video stream technology is based on an integrated, neighborhood-dependent, nonlinear approach for the enhancement of color images captured in various environments, such as extremely low lighting, fog or locations that are underwater.

A luminance-enhancement process and a contrast-enhancement process are used. Luminance enhancement essentially increases the luminance for dark regions of the image but only slightly changes the luminance for the bright regions. Contrast enhancement transforms the intensity level of each pixel based on the relationship between the pixel and its surrounding pixels. After contrast enhancement, the luminance image is converted back to a color image through a linear color-restoration process with color saturation and hue adjustment.

"This is an enhancement technique which can produce clear visibility in video streams," Asari said. "The most important factor is that this enhancement process is faster when compared to other state-of-the-art technologies, and the enhancement can be performed in real time."

Innovations produced by the Vision Lab can be useful for defense and homeland security applications, such as night-time surveillance and object recognition in low-lighting conditions. In addition to image- and video-enhancement technologies, Vision Lab is currently conducting homeland security and defense-related research projects involving robotics and other technologies. Brief descriptions of the research projects are at the laboratory Web site: http://eng.odu.edu/visionlab.

ODU's Vision Lab and Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics learned earlier this month that they are getting $1.6 million from Department of Defense's 2009 fiscal year budget appropriation to study new ways for the U.S. military to minimize casualties and deal with them more successfully when they do occur.

This article was posted on: October 17, 2008

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