The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Computer Vision

Kian Dixon our consultant managing the role
Author: Kian Dixon
Posting date: 4/25/2019 9:28 AM
“Don’t judge a book by its cover”. We use this adage to remind ourselves to go deeper and to look beyond the superficial exterior. Except, sometimes, we can’t, or won’t. Sometimes, our perceptions are pre-programmed. Think family, peer pressure, and social influences. But what about computers? What do they see? In a digital landscape that demands privacy but needs information, what are the advantages and disadvantages of Computer Vision?

The Good: Digital Superpowers 


Let’s be clear, Computer Vision is not the same as image recognition, though they are often used interchangeably. Computer Vision is more than looking at pictures, it is closer to a superpower. It can see in the dark, through walls, and over long distances and, in a matter of moments, rifle through massive volumes of information and report back its findings.

So, what does this mean? First and foremost, it means Computer Vision can support us in our daily activities and business. It may not seem like it at first glance, but much of what the computer sees is to our advantage. Let’s take a deeper look into the ways we use Computer Vision today.

  • Big Data: From backup cameras on cars to traffic patterns, weather reports to shopping behaviours and everything in between. Everything we do, professional to personal, is being watched, recorded, and used for warning, learning, saving, spending, and social. 
  • Geo-Location: Want to know how to get from Point A to Point B? This is where Geo-location comes in. In order to navigate, the satellite must first pinpoint where we are and along the way, it can point out restaurants, shops, and services to ease us on our way.
  • Medical Imaging: X-rays, ultrasounds, catheterisations, MRIs, CAT Scans, even LASIK are already in use. Add telemedicine and the possibilities are endless. The application of these functions will allow faster and more accurate diagnoses and help save lives.
  • Sensors: Motion sensors that only turns a light on when a heat signature is nearby are already saving your home or business money on your electric bill. Now, during a shop visit when you are eyeing an intriguing product, your phone may buzz with a coupon for that very item. Computer Vision sensors are now tracking shopper movements to help optimize your shopping experience.
  • Thermal Imaging: Heat signatures already help humans detect heat or gas and avoid dangerous areas, but soon this function will be integrated into every smart phone. Thermal imaging is no longer used just to catch dangerous environments, it’s used in sport. From determining drug use to statistics and strategy, this is yet another example .

The Bad: Privacy Will Forever Change 


Google is 20 years old this year. Facebook is 15. Between these two media tech giants, technological advances have ratcheted steadily toward the Catch-22 of both helping our daily lives, whilst exposing our data to our employers, governments, and advertisers. Computer Vision will allow them to see you and what you’re doing in photos and may make decisions based on something you did in your school or university days. We’re already pre-wired to make snap judgements and judge books by their cover, but what will these advancements do to our daily lives? Privacy will change forever. 

We document our lives daily with little regard to the privacy settings on our favourite social media apps. GDPR has been a good start, but it’s deigned to protect businesses and create trust from consumers, rather than truly offer privacy. So far, the impact on our privacy has been limited as it still takes such a long time to sift through the amount of data available. However, the time is coming soon, where we’ll need to perhaps think of a privacy regulation businesses, employers, and governments must follow to protect the general population.

Fahrenheit 451, 1984, and Animal Farm were once cautionary tales of a far-off future. But Big Brother is already watching and has been for quite some time. Police monitor YouTube videos. Mayors cite tweets to justify their actions. And we, thumb through our phones tagging friends and family without discretion. 

Like every new technological advancement there are advantages and disadvantages. As Computer Vision becomes increasingly prevalent, we’ll all need to be aware of the kind of data we supply from to text to image. We can’t go back to the way things were, but we can learn about ourselves through the computer’s lens. And when it comes to computers and their capabilities, don’t judge a book its cover.

If you’re interested in Data & Analytics, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants for more information. 

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How NLP Is Redefining The Future Of Tech

How NLP Is Redefining The Future Of Tech

During the last half of the past decade the importance of Data reached a level at which it was coined “the new oil”. This was indicative of a shift in the practices of individuals and businesses, highlighting how they now rely on something which isn’t measurable in gallons but in bytes. However,  because we can’t physically see the Data we generate, gather and store, its easy to lose our connection to it.  This is where NLP is comes into play. With the purpose of helping computers understand our languages, NLP (Natural Language Processing) gained an increased importance over the last couple of years. But, more than teaching a computer how to speak, NLP can make sense of patterns within a text, from finding the stylistic devices of a piece of literature, to understanding the sentiment behind it.  So, with NLP set to become even more prevalent over the next decade, here are some of the ways in which it’s already being put to use:  EXTRACTION Like an advanced version of using Ctrl + F to search a document, NLP can instantly skim through texts and extract the most important information. Not only that, but NLP algorithms are able to find connections between text passages and can generate statistics related to them. Which leads me to my next example: TEXT CLASSIFICATION  This is fairly self-explanatory: NLP algorithms can parameters to categorise texts into certain categories. You’ll find this used frequently in the insurance industry, where businesses use NLP to organise their contracts and categorise them the same way newspapers categorise their articles into different subcategories. And, closer to home, it’s similar algorithms that keep your inbox free from spam, automatically detecting patterns which are heavily used by spammers. But NLP does more than just look for key words, it can understand the meaning behind them:  SENTIMENT ANALYSIS Sentiment Analysis takes the above understanding and classification and applies a knowledge of subtext, particularly when it comes to getting an indication of customer satisfaction.  For example, Deutsche Bahn are using Sentiment Analysis to find out why people are unhappy with their experience whilst Amazon are using it to keep tabs on the customer service levels of their sellers. Indeed, Facebook have taken this one step further and, rather than just tracking satisfaction levels, they are examining how users are organising hate groups and using the data collected to try and prevent them mobilising.  With the advancement of Machine Learning and technological developments like quantum computing, this decade could see NLP’s understanding  reach a whole level, becoming omnipresent and even more immersed in our daily lives: PERSONAL AI ASSISTANTS The popularity of using personal AI-based assistants is growing thanks to Alexa and Google Assistant (Siri & Cortana not so much, sorry). People are getting used to talking to their phones and smart devices in order to set alarms, create reminders or even book haircuts.  And, as we continue to use these personal assistants more and more, we’ll need them to understand us better and more accurately. After decades of using generic text- or click inputs to make a computer execute our commands, this decade our interactions with computers need to involve into a more “natural” way of communicating. But these advances are not just limited to voice technologies. Talking and texting with machines, the way we would with friends, is increasingly realistic thanks to advances in NLP: CHATBOTS Since companies have realised that they can answer most generic inquiries using an algorithm, the use of chatbots has increased tenfold.  Not only do these save on the need to employee customer service staff, but many are now so realistic and conversational that many customers do not realise that they are engaging with an algorithm.  Plus, the ability to understand what is meant, even when it is not said in as many words, means that NLP can offer a service that is akin to what any individual can.  If you’re interested in using NLP to fuel the next generation of technical advancements, we may have a role for you. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of expert consultants to find out more. 

How Big Data Is Impacting Logistics

How Big Data is Impacting Logistics

As Big Data can reveal patterns, trends and associations relating to human behaviour and interactions, it’s no surprise that Data & Analytics are changing the way that the supply chain sector operates today.  From informing and predicting buying trends to streamlining order processing and logistics, technological innovations are impacting the industry, boosting efficiency and improving supply chain management.  Analysing behavioural patterns Using pattern recognition systems, Artificial Intelligence is able to analyse Big Data. During this process, Artificial Intelligence defines and identifies external influences which may affect the process of operations (such as customer purchasing choices) using Machine Learning algorithms. From the Data collected, Artificial Intelligence is able to determine information or characteristics which can inform us of repetitive behaviour or predict statistically probable actions.  Consequently, organisation and planning can be undertaken with ease to improve the efficiency of the supply chain. For example, ordering a calculated amount of stock in preparation for a busy season can be made using much more accurate predictions - contributing to less over-stocking and potentially more profit. As a result, analysing behavioural patterns facilitates better management and administration, with a knock-on effect for improving processes.  Streamlining operations  Using image recognition technology, Artificial Intelligence enables quicker processes that are ideally suited for warehouses and stock control applications. Additionally, transcribing voice to text applications mean stock can be identified and processed quickly to reach its destination, reducing the human resource time required and minimising human error.  Artificial intelligence has also changed the way we use our inventory systems. Using natural language interaction, enterprises have the capability to generate reports on sales, meaning businesses can quickly identify stock concerns and replenish accordingly. Intelligence can even communicate these reports, so Data reliably reaches the next person in the supply chain, expanding capabilities for efficient operations to a level that humans physically cannot attain. It’s no surprise that when it comes to warehousing and packaging operations Artificial Intelligence can revolutionise the efficiency of current systems. With image recognition now capable of detecting which brands and logos are visible on cardboard boxes of all sizes, monitoring shelf space is now possible on a real-time basis. In turn, Artificial Intelligence is able to offer short term insights that would have previously been restricted to broad annual time frames for consumers and management alike.  Forecasting  Many companies manually undertake forecasting predictions using excel spreadsheets that are then subject to communication and data from other departments. Using this method, there’s ample room for human error as forecasting cannot be uniform across all regions in national or global companies. This can create impactful mistakes which have the potential to make predictions increasingly inaccurate.  Using intelligent stock management systems, Machine Learning algorithms can predict when stock replenishment will be required in warehouse environments. When combined with trend prediction technology, warehouses will effectively be capable enough to almost run themselves  negating the risk of human error and wasted time. Automating the forecasting process decreases cycle time, while providing early warning signals for unexpected issues, leaving businesses better prepared for most eventualities that may not have been spotted by the human eye.  Big Data is continuing to transform the world of logistics, and utilising it in the best way possible is essential to meeting customer demands and exercising agile supply chain management.  If you’re interested in utilising Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to help improve processes, Harnham may be able to help. Take a look at our latest opportunities or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to find out more.  Author Bio: Alex Jones is a content creator for Kendon Packaging. Now one of Britain's leading packaging companies, Kendon Packaging has been supporting businesses nationwide since the 1930s.

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