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New Vision Lab Director Excited About Opportunities for Multidisciplinary Collaboration

A shadowy blob is vaguely detectable on the infrared screen.

With waves of green and blue coloring washing over the screen, the eye has to squint to make out the tiny figure at all.

But then the image gets clearer. Though it's still an infrared image, the shadowy figure is soon clearly recognizable as some sort of vehicle. The landscape becomes more easily distinguishable as a desert valley. As the image becomes clearer still, it becomes apparent the vehicle is making its way up a roadway.

Then it turns, and the image is unmistakable. The vehicle that has been tracked through infrared vision is a tank.

This demonstration isn't some Army surveillance video - it's an example of the work done at Old Dominion University's Computational Intelligence and Machine Vision Laboratory (Vision Lab).

New Vision Lab director Khan M. Iftekharuddin, professor in the Batten College of Engineering and Technology, came to ODU this fall, excited by the work done by the lab in the past and the opportunity for multidisciplinary collaboration in the future.

"The ODU Vision Lab has made excellent progress in wide-area surveillance and machine vision, attracting attention from stakeholders both within and outside the university," Iftekharuddin said.

"There are a few excellent centers and unique programs at ODU that make collaboration exciting. As well, the proximity of ODU to major national labs, NASA Langley and Department of Defense research centers are all factors in my excitement."

Specifically, Iftekharuddin said he's enthused about the research being conducted at ODU's Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center, the Frank Reidy Center for Bioelectrics and the National Centers for System of Systems Engineering.

Vision Lab researchers focus on developing new algorithms and architectures for real-time applications in the areas of signal processing, image processing, computer vision, pattern recognition and biologically inspired object recognition.

The lab's work has been recognized by grant-funding agencies, particularly in the Homeland Security field, for several years. That stands to continue under Iftekharuddin, who conducted a tour of the lab, located in Innovation Research Park @ ODU, for a delegation from the U.S. Marshals Service in late November.

"We work in computational image processing, machine vision and intelligence, and pattern recognition. Our techniques and algorithms in their core are common and applicable to many different yet related problem domains. Therefore, agencies such as the U.S. Marshals are interested in learning our capabilities," he said.

Among the new projects being undertaken by Vision Lab researchers are an algorithm to aid in long-distance facial recognition, 3-D face modeling using static image frames, and an automatic image stabilizer that uses data points from moving images to create a more visible still image. Work is also going on in the area of brain tumor detection under another NIH-funded project.

Iftekharuddin received an M.S. and Ph.D., both in electrical engineering, from the University of Dayton. He came to ODU from the University of Memphis, where he was an associate professor in the electrical and computer engineering department.

He has three patents to his name, has submitted to more than 75 conference publications and 40 journals, written eight book chapters and produced 15 technical reports in the field of machine vision and computational intelligence. He is a fellow of SPIE and a senior member of IEEE. He is also an associate editor of three journals including, Optical Engineering.

Machine vision and computational intelligence is a field in which Iftekharuddin believes the rate of technical advances is only going to accelerate.

"There are a few factors driving this, such as excellent progress in sensing and computing, newer understanding and mathematical modeling capabilities, and increased collaborations within and outside national boundaries," he said.

"Machine vision and computational intelligence will serve as a driving force to improving health, safety, security and quality of life. Tools will be developed to facilitate personalized medicine, security without interference and safety without breaching privacy, as just a few examples."

This article was posted on: December 15, 2011

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