By Andy Perret
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend the 34th British Machine Vision Conference (BMVC) held in Aberdeen toward the end of November. This being my first conference away from of the University of Lincoln campus, other than CDT conferences, I was unsure as to what to expect. My main fears were regarding booking trains and a hotel, but these were totally alleviated by the CDT Team whose genius level organisation skills solved, what appears to me, to be a bewildering combination of timetable and train operator puzzles designed to catch people like me out. Getting on the wrong train, going in the wrong direction, would have been a likely outcome had I been in charge of this aspect.
The conference was held at the impressive P & J live event complex. The opening keynote was given by Maja Pantic of Meta / Imperial College London, whose work on vision-based detection and analysis of facial expressions and body gestures either has or will, play a role in many of our lives. Her work can be seen in chat bots and avatars inside the VR world or within WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and provides a good example of how the science of machine vision touches our daily lives. Her presentation ‘Faces, Avatars and GenAI’ was very interesting, as she took us through some of the state of the art work being done at Meta.
At the end of first day the welcoming reception was held at another impressive location, the Aberdeen Town House, with its opulence and splendour created in days of yore to show the wealth of the Aberdeen merchants. In keeping with this opulence was the fact that our coats and jackets were afforded a room all of their own which proved to be no ordinary cloakroom!
This was followed by our host for the evening, the Lord Provost, who is the Convener of Aberdeen City Council, the Civic Head and also the King’s Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeen. All impressive stuff for a simple country boy like myself. Once the awe and wonderment subsided, normal service was restored, and I managed to find the wine which ensured the of the evening went well.
Day two’s keynote was given by Georgia Gkioxari of Caltech and formerly a Fundamental AI Researcher (FAIR) at Meta who is another person that has done work that many people will have come into contact with. Her work includes the Mask R-CNN, Mesh R-CNN and Pytorch3D and she spoke about the future of recognition being 3D and how 3D perception is a good research area that is largely unsolved.
Although the presentations and posters were interesting and good quality, lunch time each day was worth waiting for. The quality of food was excellent and no one seemed to be counting how often I went back for more, which was a bonus!
The keynote on day three was given by Michael Pound from the University of Nottingham and who also features on the Youtube Computerphile channel taking science directly to many people’s lives via Computerphile. An excellent presenter who spoke about his love of plants, or more specifically high resolution microscopic images of plant roots, and how the huge images that he uses cannot be used with the state of the art vision architectures which are typically designed for small low resolution images. He argues that more applied science is required, and not just blue-sky research to tackle these types of problems.
Day four’s keynote presentation was delivered by Daniel Cremers who continued what was a common theme during this BMVC, namely 3D. He spoke about dynamic scene understanding and how self driving cars need to understand that humans behave differently from city to city and from country to country, and the challenges that exist. Day five was purely workshops spread over various locations within Aberdeen. I chose to attend the Earth Observation and Environment Monitoring workshop at the National Subsea Centre with Mazvydas Gudelis, also of the Agri-FoRwArDs CDT. Maz gave an excellent presentation about his work regarding the automated analysis of Antarctic Krill which was a nice end to the week. Mazvydas Gudelis
While the keynote speakers gave perhaps the stand out presentations, there were approximately 65 other presenters not including those in the workshops, 45 of whom I managed to hear and get an insight into their work. It was fascinating to see the diverse research that goes on under the general subject of machine vision and I came away with a lot of inspiration to carry my own study forward. I left with a list of papers I want to read which will be all the more interesting having seen and heard the people behind the work.
Attending the BMVC was a great experience, it was very well organised, and I even managed to sample some authentic Scottish gourmet food in the form of a Haggis burger! All this made possible by the RTSG and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council [EP/S023917/1].