Brookes Professor wins top award for work on computer vision

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


Professor Philip Torr gains prestigious Wolfson Research Merit award

Professor Philip Torr of the School Of Technology has recently been awarded the prestigious Wolfson Research Merit award by the Royal Society for his ground breaking work on computer vision.

The award acknowledges Professor Torr's work which brings together several areas of research to create a greater ability for the computer to not only 'see' but also to 'understand'. He explains:

'There has been lots of research in computer vision that is very deep, but not broad and only limited research which aims to pull it all together. We are seeking to provide a framework for the computer to understand a scene by recognising objects within it and to provide a description of their shape.'

This has great commercial potential in for example, providing a search and index tool for the huge amounts of images and videos online, on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube. Other applications include surveillance and robot navigation as well as computer game cameras like Sony EyeToy, which brings computer vision the living room.

Professor Torr is no stranger to awards. His work on 'boujou', the breakthrough system used in film production, has already gained him the highest award in computer vision, the Marr Prize in 1998. Professor Torr worked on the algorithm design for the system which cuts out a great deal of laborious hands-on work and is in use in many of the premier film and video post-production 'houses' in London and Hollywood. Besides Harry Potter, credits include Lord of the Rings, Tomb Raider, Enemy at the Gates and When Dinosaurs Ruled America. His work has attracted a clutch of industry awards including a technical 'Emmy'.

Commenting on his award Professor Torr said:

'This is a fantastic recognition of all the work carried out by the team at Oxford Brookes. The University has a strong commitment to research and has created a supportive environment for me and my team. My research at Brookes is immensely enjoyable, blending theoretical work with practical outcomes. The ultimate test will be to solve the deep mathematical problems concerned with vision which can bring great benefits.'

Under Professor Torr's supervision, Oxford Brookes University computer vision group has attracted nearly two million pounds of research income, funding an eighteen strong team of researchers. Combining academic excellence and a remit to collaborate with industry, the group has worked both with local Oxfordshire businesses Yotta, 2d3 and Vicon, and international organizations such as Sharp Research Laboratories Europe, and Sony Entertainment Europe. Contributions to commercial products are appearing, or about to appear with four of these companies.

The group is creating waves internationally attracting high-profile visitors from around the world. Oxford Brookes PhD alumni have gained top positions with Stanford, Rutgers and Oxford Universities as well as Mitsubushi and Microsoft Research labs.