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Why you see less than a robot...

06-10-2021
By Randall van Poelvoorde,  RobotXperience & Paul Voerman, TRICAS.

We humans naturally think that we can see a lot with our eyes. This is actually not true. In particular, there is a lot we cannot see. Randall van Poelvoorde -RobotXperience & Paul Voerman - Tricas explains where we stand and how the fantastic eyes of robots can help us.
We first cover the technical side and then go on to give a few examples of the usefulness of robot eyes.
 
Resolution
Robots can see at a much higher resolution than we can. From your eye, two million nerves transmit the image that falls onto your retina to your brain. If you were to compare nerves to pixels, the eye has two million pixels. This means that a good camera on a phone has ten times that at 20 million pixels. But that's just the beginning, because if you were to use a robot this could go up much further. Exponentially, you know.
 
Contrast
Our computer color spectrum is usually divided into 16.5 million colors. With difficulty, we as humans can see 5 points of difference. As impressive as this might seem, a robot is able to distinguish much smaller differences. The color differences between the spheres below are hard for us to distinguish, but are no match for a robot eye. A robot eye does not allow itself to be seduced by the brain's own interpretation. Humans interpret images continuously and that, unfortunately, reduces the objectivity of our view of reality.

Speed
Measuring the speed of the human eye in frames per second is technically impossible. What matters is whether you see something (spinning wheel) and how well you see it (every spoke of the wheel).  A camera is obviously much better equipped than the human eye. To make nice slow motion recordings, a frame rate of 960 is currently quite common. This pales in comparison to the 100,000 frames per second of specialized cameras for super slow motion.
   
A piece in the electromagnetic spectrum
In the near infrared spectrum, our eyes have lost the ability to perceive. Just take a look at the picture below and you'll notice how much our eyes actually miss! In fact, light behaves no differently in this part of the spectrum than in the spectrum visible to us. Reflection, absorption and transmission also play a role here. Properties that are not visible to us become visible with near infrared.
 
Applications
We can fortunately equip robots and other machines with cameras that can see very well, quickly and sharply. So what could they see that would be of use to us?
Thousands of applications are possible.
Below is a tip of the iceberg.
 
- Unwanted contamination/mold on our food. That seems great! Your robot points out the freshest food in the store. This means less chance of food poisoning. That small dot that you are not able to see is clearly present in near infrared. But the color of food also contains much more information for the robot than for us.
 
- Irregularities on the skin of humans and animals. Think of skin cancer. By detecting this at an early state, the chance of survival is significantly increased! Any mirror that contains a good camera can check you and your family daily without any problems.
 
- Crop health. From a drone, you can quickly see which crops are healthy or sick. But the drone also sees exactly which crops are planted on a field through near-infrared.

- Different plastics that look the same to us. If you rely on people to recycle plastics, different types of plastics will end up on the same heap. This is highly undesirable in a circular economy.

The above mentioned examples are purely for illustration purposes and to incite you to think about the possibilities.


Randall is a 'disruptive technology strategist' for your keynotes and specific workshops. Randall can also be booked as a day chairman for innovation days and conferences.

Visit Randall on LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/company/robotxperience/