Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Vision Systems Design: The Swimsuit Issue, Part 2

Hard on the heels of the fascinating revelations in last week's blog (Vision Systems Design: The Swimsuit Issue) comes the news that the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue has once again employed some rather nifty imaging technology to bring more life to the swimsuit models featured on its pages.

For the second year in a row, the publisher has digitally watermarked photos of the scantily clad ladies in its issue using Digimarc's (Beaverton OR, USA) digital watermarking technology. For those of you who may not know, this digital watermarking technique embeds an imperceptible pattern into the image that can be detected by a smart phone but not by the human eye.

Unlike a QR code, these watermarks have the advantage that they do not cover a part of an image or ruin the design of the pages of the swimsuit issue -- a move which I'm sure would upset many of the magazine's readers if they did.

To launch the behind-the-scenes videos of the nineteen different swimsuit models, users simply need to use a mobile swimsuit viewer app -- available for iPhone, iPad, and Android -- which then enables such devices to detect the digitally watermarked photos and launch the videos associated with them.

The swimsuit viewer mobile app and video delivery process were built and are managed by Nellymoser (Arlington, MA, USA) -- a mobile marketing and technology services company. The app and video are powered by Nellymoser's "mobile engagement platform," which enables digital content to be presented across desktops, tablets, and phones.

While the development of such a watermark image encoder and reader app might seem somewhat trivial to those of us in design and manufacturing, it is in fact high-volume applications such as these that may ultimately drive down the cost of the technology, allowing it to be used by all sorts of folks in industrial marketing too.

Having said that, enabling a user to launch an interactive video of a machine vision system for automating the process of de-boning lamb carcasses or removing the internal organs of animals such as cows or pigs from a promotional flyer distributed at a trade show might be taking things a little too far.

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