AI & Image Detection Using Light

The truth is, we don’t actually need a physical computer to be able to create an artificially intelligent program. When we think of AI the first thing we instantaneously associate them with are computers. However, all of that is about to change with breakthrough research from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Researchers are UWM have managed to ‘crack the code’ if you will and ultimately were able to create artificially intelligent glass. Glass which is capable of recognising images without any need for sensors, circuits, or even a power source.

Researcher Zongfu Yu stated that “we’re always thinking about how we provide vision for machines in the future, and imagining application specific, mission-driven technologies,” he continues by saying that “this changes almost everything about how we design machine vision.”

The researchers were able to describe in depth and provide an explanation as to how they made a sheet of  ‘artificially intelligent’ glass that was capable of identifying handwritten digits. To accomplish this breakthrough idea, they started by placing different sizes and shapes of air bubbles at specific spots within the glass. Then they added bits of strategically placed light-absorbing materials, including graphene.

Using light technology and without the use of a power supply, an AI glass can detect images.

Using light technology and without the use of a power supply, an AI glass can detect images.

When the team was asked to write down a random number, the light reflecting off the digit would enter one side of the glass. These bubbles and impurities from the glass would then scatter the light in specific directions until they had reached one of ten assigned spots. Each of these designated spots corresponded to a different digit on a different side of the glass. In essence, the glass was capable of identifying and providing details to the researcher as to what number it saw. This was all done at the speed of light and without the need for any typical computer which requires a power source such as a lithium-ion battery.

“Teaching machines to accurate “see” will be key to achieving our goals for artificial intelligence as machine vision plays a role in everything from autonomous cars to delivery robots. We’re accustomed to digital computing, but this has broadened our view,” said Yu in a statement. He followed up by claiming that “the wave dynamics of light propagation provide a new way to perform analog artificial neural computing.”

With the research and development put into artificial intelligent programs, machines, etc. we are paving a way for the next generation of pioneers to come up with their own take on applications of AI. Our understanding of artificial intelligence is only getting deeper and deeper. Who knows what the world of AI has in store for us, its potential and possibilities are limitless.

Zacharia Sharif