The impact of UK computer vision research

The impact of research funded from the public purse is an important measure of how valuable that research is. In this context, 'impact' is principally the transfer of knowledge from research to industry.

UK vision research has an excellent record in this context, with several different types of interaction between the academe and industry: interaction of academe with established companies, academe providing knowledge, expertise and trained staff to companies, industry seconding academics, and companies being spun out to exploit academic research. UK vision researchers also have a good record of working with government agencies. Some examples of these types of interaction are given below.

Major UK vision companies

This is a subset of a longer list of UK vision companies.

Companies such as these have stated that they rely on a regular supply of highly-trained graduates computer vision experience from UK institutions. Other vision-related industries that employ vision graduates are the post-production and games industries, including companies such as EA, Disney Black-Rock, Eurocom, Rare, Codemasters, Frontier, Natural Motion, The Foundry, MirriAd, Framestore, The Mill, Aardman, but there are many more.

The skills learnt by postdoctorate researchers and PhD students working in vision are valuable to companies working in other domains, for example: Dyson (robotics), Morgan-Stanley (real-time computing), Ocado (robotics), Snell and Wilcox (digital media creation, management and distribution), BAe Systems (defence and manufacturing), Selex (defence).

Recent spin-out companies

Vision research in labs from major international companies

Support for UK industry and agencies

UK vision research supports companies in a range of other areas:

Some specific examples are:

There is widespread support for CCTV analysis from HOSDB (CAST as of April 2011), in particular using the i-lids database.

Knowledge transfer activities


Some of the leading vision texts have been written by UK researchers. These include:

UK researchers have also written important books in disciplines related to vision, such as:

Two major international online resources for learning vision are also based in UK academe:

Future impact

The above all relate to impact that UK-based research has had in recent years. However, the capabilities of computer systems have an important role in determining what is possible and it is only very recently that they have become fast enough, and with enough storage, to make such innovations practical. Moreover, the miniaturisation of computing and (particularly) sensing components that we have seen in recent years is opening up a host of new application areas; and the increased sophistication of machine learning is making possible more 'intelligent' vision systems. These are likely to have an impact on everyone's lives in the next decade. Everywhere that humans see can potentially be supported by computer vision.