When electricity was finally mastered at the turn of the XX century, it triggered a whole new range of new products and industries while improving existing ones. From light bulbs to fans, fridges, air conditioning, factory tools little that we interact with today is not affected by electricity.  Today, computer vision is having the same effect. Now that it has reached a certain level of maturity, both in performance and availability, computer vision is opening a huge array of new opportunities and new businesses in industries ranging from satellites to agriculture, medicine, entertainment, marketing, healthcare, transportation, travel, and many, many more.  It is becoming the electricity of the XXI century, empowering pretty much everything humans are involved in.  If anything, the LDV Vision Summit allowed us to get a 2 day deep dive into its some of its myriad of applications, navigating from current practical usage to long-range possibilities.

Packed with over 500 attendees who came from all over the world to the SVA Theatre in New York, the 4th edition of the LDV Vision Summit was a feast for anyone involved in visual tech. Engineers, developers, founders, CEO’s, journalists and investors were spoiled by a captivating showcase of research and practical applications of computer vision.

Evan Nisselson opens up the 2-day summit with a clear explanation of what is visual tech. ©Robert Wright/LDV Vision Summit
Evan Nisselson opens up the 2-day summit with a clear explanation of what is visual tech. ©Robert Wright/LDV Vision Summit

And this might just be the main hidden attraction of the LDV Vision Summit: it’s attendees. Nowhere does one has the chance to mix wich such a diverse crowd of people with such a variety of backgrounds, all sharing the same passion for everything visual tech. And while at first glance, one might think that a Ph.D. candidate in computer vision might not have much to say to a marketing growth hacker, it couldn’t be further from reality. To everyone’s credit, the atmosphere on and outside the stage is all about passionate sharing of knowledge and insight. As if, free from their computer screens, they were finally allowed to play with long lost friends. If anything, the LDV Vision Summit is all about inspiration and learning.

LDV VISION SUMMIT 2017 03 PANEL 2. ©VizWorld
Defining the world of autonomous vehicles ©VizWorld

And learning we did: The first day, typically more focused on research, delivered high insight on computer vision strategy from companies like Facebook, Google,  Pinterest, and Nvidia, amongst many others. But here, unlike other conferences, it came not from C-level executives but by those who are actually working on it daily. To make the day more captivating,  talks were mixed, offering present and future developments delivering a powerful glimpse into the “what’s next”. In particular, the presentation by Jianxiong Xiao, “Professor X”, who presented autonomous driving using only cheap cameras ( no Lidar, Gps, Radar or high-end cameras).  We might, one day, also use our cell phones to take control and drive our cars.

Presentation by Jianxiong Xiao, “Professor X”. ©Robert Wright/LDV Vision Summit
Presentation by Jianxiong Xiao, “Professor X”. ©Robert Wright/LDV Vision Summit

The day was particularly focused on self-driving cars and the A.I. Powered eyes they need to perform their tasks.  The self-driving car industry is maturing and what was once the sole domain of Google’s research is now growing exponentially in the number of companies working on practical solutions.  As with computer vision,  80 to 90% of the progress has been made. But what remains might be the most challenging, as it covers all the possible exceptions, rare but as deadly.

Day two offered perspectives in VR, Healthcare, video marketing, and the now celebrated start-up competition. Unlike the first day, talks are less scientific ( you will not see an equation on the screen) and more business practical in nature. Particularly in healthcare – probably a whole summit by itself – visual tech is powering doctors and researchers to make better decisions much faster. And more importantly, it allows them to make fewer mistakes. Since all diagnostics start with visual cues, whether visible by the human eye or microscopes, computer vision has a huge role to play in improving healthcare. Either by analyzing carcinogenic cells or providing vision-impaired individuals with reading glasses, it is involved in every step of creating a better life.

The "hidden gem" of the LDV Vision Summit is the networking. ©Robert Wright/LDV Vision Summit
The “hidden gem” of the LDV Vision Summit is the networking. ©Robert Wright/LDV Vision Summit

While every edition of the LDV Vision Summit leaves its attendees both satisfactorily drained and highly inspired, it always makes them want more. More applications, more knowledge, more discoveries and more connections. Luckily enough, there is always next year…

[Kaptur is a proud media sponsor of the LDV Vision Summit.]

opening graphic: ©VizWorld

Author: Paul Melcher

Paul Melcher is a highly influential and visionary leader in visual tech, with 20+ years of experience in licensing, tech innovation, and entrepreneurship. He is the Managing Director of MelcherSystem and has held executive roles at Corbis, Stipple, and more. Melcher received a Digital Media Licensing Association Award and is a board member of Plus Coalition, Clippn, and Anthology, and has been named among the “100 most influential individuals in American photography”

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