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How robots see the world (video)

A designer creates a montage of how computers and robots process visual information from the outside world, showing the unusual aesthetic and perspective of computer vision.

As computers and robots advance, more of the physical world will become "machine readable," whether by a security camera or a robotic car able to process information on the road.

Designer and filmmaker Timo Arnall last week created a video of machine vision footage that helps illustrate the point of view of these machines. The video is a montage of experiments to make machines "see" the human world and create some order around it.

In some scenes, the computer places a colored rectangle around cars and pedestrians to analyze parking-lot traffic or highway congestion. In others, they graphically track the movement of people in city streets, walking through buildings, or waiting in lines.

In a blog post, Arnall said he's captivated simply by the look of the videos, with their colored arrows and boxes superimposed on street corners and roadways. But it's also part of getting familiar with the perspective of robots. "It's something we need to develop understandings and approaches to," he wrote, "as we begin to design, build, and shape the senses of our new artificial companions."