17 Interesting Applications of Object Detection for Businesses

By Liz Oz • Jun 15, 2022
Computer vision detects cars, people, and motorists in a city.
What Is Computer Vision Object Detection?

Object detection is a common computer vision technique that locates and identifies specific types of objects in an image. Those types of objects can be anything from humans, animals, or vehicles to very specific items such as brands of chips or types of building materials. 

How Does Object Detection Work?

Successfully detecting a human or object in a video requires building an application that involves both object recognition and image classification. Deep learning computer vision models are fed large amounts of image data to teach them what a particular object looks like. The models can then learn to identify those objects in new scenarios.

Computer vision (CV) accomplishes this process through three distinct tasks:

  • Picking objects out of background images.
  • Proposing what class an object belongs to — e.g. person, bicycle, dog — using a probability score.
  • Defining the boundaries of the proposed object with x-y origins and height and length values.

What Is the Goal of Object Detection?

Object detection’s goal is to give machines the power to identify defined items or things in a live video feed and achieve the desired outcome. Object detection is often combined with other computer vision techniques like tracking and counting to develop more robust applications that better solve real-life scenarios.

Object detection use cases often have objectives like locating, tracking, and counting objects or detecting anomalies and outliers in an environment. Object detection data provides valuable business information that allows stakeholders to respond to events in real-time.

computer vision detects people, dogs, and traffic lights.

What Are the Most Interesting Applications of Object Detection?
Retail Use Cases:

AI-Powered Video Analytics

The power of computer vision on the edge brings a whole new dimension to video analytics. Shopping malls, convenience stores, restaurants, and brick-and-mortar stores can leverage object detection applications to detect people and store items. This helps them better understand shopper behavior and improve operations. Edge CV gives business managers access to real-time information that allows them to make improvements instantly, rather than days or weeks later.

Object detection helps retail operators intelligently track things like product interactions by analyzing how often customers stop at displays and what products they pick up or put back. Quick service restaurants can also benefit from CV by monitoring food preparation and order taking to ensure optimal speed of service.

Contactless Checkout

Completely frictionless checkout systems are made possible with object detection. Through sensors and cameras powered by computer vision, shoppers simply pick items off the shelf and a 'virtual' shopping cart is created for that person with AI. Shoppers can then pay for those items at a contactless kiosk or simply walk out the door if a fully automated checkout system is being used.

Inventory Management

Computer vision is another set of eyes watching over every shelf in a store. Object detection applications trained to identify every item in a store’s inventory can instantly alert employees when items need to be restocked. CV helps stores better manage shelves and displays to make sure they are always stocked accurately and neatly.

Inventory control powered by artificial intelligence also allows managers to track product trends and order new products more seamlessly to meet future demands.

Foot Traffic Analysis

Object detection is a powerful tool for tracking activity inside and outside a store. CV applications that utilize tracking and counting can monitor and tally how many people enter and exit a store. It can also monitor foot traffic outside the store and count how many people walk by or stop to look at window displays.

All of this information can be used to better understand peak shopping times and optimize things like store signage to entice customers to enter. Managers can track every movement throughout a store to determine the optimal flow of traffic. This helps plan for product placement and promotions, as well as highlight areas of the store that need to be redesigned.

Customer Experience

The main goal of retail establishments is to provide the best customer experience possible. Object detection applications help accomplish that goal by providing valuable data on customer actions. For example, stores can improve the checkout process by monitoring for long lines. Once wait times exceed a certain threshold, employees can be automatically alerted to provide additional assistance. 

Computer vision applications can also identify when customers need assistance with product selection by identifying how long they look at items or if they pick up many different items without making a selection. Those actions can trigger an alert for employees to walk through those areas of the store to offer assistance.

Contactless shopping

Industrial Use Cases:

PPE Detection

Warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and construction sites can be dangerous places to work. So, innovative companies are always on the lookout for new technologies to increase employee safety. Object detection is the perfect solution for tracking the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Applications trained to detect hard hats, vests, goggles, face masks, or harnesses can be deployed throughout a facility to ensure employees are wearing correct PPE. If the system finds someone not wearing the right gear, an alert is sent to a supervisor to ensure the situation is corrected. 

Product Assembly

All manufacturers strive to produce products that meet quality standards and customer expectations. Computer vision is a valuable assistant in the manufacturing process. Object detection ensures the right components are used in assembly lines and correct processes are followed. It is also the tool that gives intelligent sight to robotics and other automated production systems. Many robotic systems are programmed to follow precise instructions but cannot deviate from that program. Robots with computer vision can detect a wider range of objects and be more adaptive to different environments.

Anomaly and Defect Detection

Precision and accuracy are paramount for manufactured products and goods. Object detection can identify parts and finished products that don’t meet quality standards. CV systems can constantly monitor workstations, production lines, and QC processes to identify products that are damaged or out of spec before they are shipped out the door. 

Productivity Improvement

Computer vision can boost productivity and efficiency, improving the bottom line. Object detection monitors workers in factories, warehouses, production facilities, and construction sites, providing valuable data on their work activities. It is important to note that workers can be tracked while also maintaining their individual privacy.

For example in construction, CV can monitor when workers enter a site and track their movements to map out the most efficient workspace. It’s a powerful tool for tracking and managing all forms of labor and subcontractors on-site - producing an accurate record of work and job progress.

in-cabin blog-1

Transportation and Smart City Use Cases:

Autonomous Driving

Computer vision plays a critical role in electric vehicles and driverless cars. Object detection systems are vital for detecting things like signs, stop lights, pedestrians, other vehicles, and lane markers.

Traffic Monitoring & Road Maintenance

Object detection can also be used to monitor traffic and road conditions in smart cities. CV systems provide real-time data to transportation agencies about current traffic levels, potential hazards, and accidents. Object detection can be used to monitor different zones of a city. For instance, a city might have a core congestion zone that requires a permit for vehicles to enter. Object detection helps monitor those access points by identifying whether cars have the proper permits or by checking license plates against a database.

People Counting

Automatically counting people has many applications in smart cities and public spaces. It’s useful to track the total number of visitors to events or public attractions for safety and planning. Object detection can be used in transit systems to identify the most popular bus or subway stops and provide data on route and capacity improvements.

People counting is also useful for stores and other businesses like museums to keep track of how many people enter and exit, monitoring specific areas to maintain desired capacity levels.

Parking Occupancy

Parking systems are becoming smarter with the help of computer vision. Object detection applications can identify open parking spaces in surface lots or parking garages.  Data can be updated in real-time, alerting drivers of open spots with signs.

In-Cabin Monitoring

As autonomous vehicles proliferate, computer vision will play a vital role in monitoring the inside of vehicles. With object detection and applications like pose estimation and eye tracking, computer vision systems can detect when drivers become drowsy or distracted on the road, sending them an alert to focus their attention.

CV can improve the riding experience on public transportation and autonomous mass transit systems. Object detection can alert operators of medical emergencies or other safety incidents - even when no driver is present.

Alternative transportation

Cities and urban areas are becoming denser, so new ways of navigating those spaces are popping up. “Last-mile” forms of personal transportation like e-scooters and e-bikes present both solutions and challenges for riders and cities.

Object detection applications on these forms of transportation can assist riders by identifying obstacles and hazardous road conditions. CV also ensures rider and pedestrian safety by disabling a vehicle if it’s being ridden on the sidewalk or in other crowded areas.

ADA Compliance

Mass transit and passenger vehicles transport millions of people every day. Yet, there are concerns about how future transportation systems will cater to the needs of those with disabilities. 

With computer vision, system operators can add a crucial level of insight and care to their routes and in-cabin experiences. Object detection enables the identification of passengers who need extra assistance and can quickly deploy boarding assistance systems.

Computer vision detects passengers on a bus.

Security & Safety Use Cases:

There are many use cases for object detection in security and safety. CV can be deployed on surveillance systems to constantly monitor for security threats in locations like airports, stadiums, and transit systems.

Object detection can identify unauthorized access to businesses and locations like construction sites, preventing theft. CV can monitor and improve safety in construction and industrial worksites by placing virtual fences around hazardous areas that trigger alerts when people cross certain thresholds.

Object detection for construction and manufacturing sites.

Learn More About Object Detection
Get Started With alwaysAI Object Detection 

alwaysAI® provides developers and enterprises a comprehensive platform for building, deploying, and managing computer vision applications on IoT devices. We make computer vision come alive on the edge - where work and life happen. The alwaysAI platform offers a catalog of pre-trained models, a low-code model training toolkit, and a powerful set of APIs to help developers at all levels build and customize CV apps. alwaysAI® has an easy deployment process and a state-of-the-art run-time engine to accelerate computer vision apps into production quickly, securely, and affordably.

Make advanced AI easy for your organization. Register for free to get started today, or schedule a demo and talk to our computer vision experts about your business.

By Liz Oz • Jun 15, 2022

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