Color in computer vision: recent progress


Healey, G. and Luong, Q.-T. Color in computer vision: recent progressin Handbook of pattern recognition and computer vision, 1997.


The use of color in computer vision has received growing attention. This chapter introduces the basic principles underlying the physics and perception of color and reviews the state-of-the-art in color vision algorithms. Parts of this chapter have been condensed from [58] while new material has been included which provides a critical review of recent work. In particular, research in the areas of color constancy and color segmentation is reviewed in detail.

The first section reviews physical models for color image formation as well as models for human color perception. Reflection models characterize the relationship between a surface, the illumination environment, and the resulting color image. Physically motivated linear models are used to approximate functions of wavelength using a small number of parameters. Reflection models and linear models are introduced in Section 1 and play an important role in several of the color constancy and color segmentation algorithms presented in Sections 2 and 3. For completeness, we also present a concise summary of the trichromatic theory which models human color perception. A discussion is given of color matching experiments and the CIE color representation system. These models are important for a wide range of applications including the consistent representation of color on different devices. Section 1 concludes with a description of the most widely used color spaces and their properties.

The second section considers progress on computational approaches to color constancy. Human vision exhibits color constancy as the ability to perceive stable surface colors for a fixed object under a wide range of illumination conditions and scene configurations. A similar ability is required if computer vision systems are to recognize objects in uncontrolled environments. We begin by reviewing the properties and limitations of the early retinex approach to color constancy. We describe in detail the families of linear model algorithms and highlight algorithms which followed. Section 2 concludes with a subsection on recent indexing methods which integrate color constancy with the higher level recognition process.

Section 3 addresses the use of color for image segmentation and stresses the role of image models. We start by presenting classical statistical approaches to segmentation which have been generalized to include color. The more recent emphasis on the use of physical models for segmentation has led to new classes of algorithms which enable the accurate segmentation of effects such as shadows, highlights, shading, and interreflection. Such effects are often a source of error for algorithms based on classical statistical models. Finally, we describe a color texture model which has been used successfully as the basis of an algorithm for segmenting images of natural outdoor scenes.

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