Eulerian Video Magnification – the new video tool that will blow your mind

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Google Research earlier shared some breakthrough research to come out of MIT. This time, the research does not just influence the world of social or search — it is research that has the potential to break boundaries in medicine, the military and even law enforcement.

The new video technique, called Eulerian Video Magnification, is designed to magnify subtle changes in the world. The system basically works by taking a video (or even still images) and comparing the changes that happen on a pixel level. These pixels are then amplified and their movement is exaggerated to make the change readily apparent.

The tech/geeky explanation starts with a piece of video footage. This is then broken up into different spatial frequency bands which are then analysed per pixel (following so far?). The system then takes the individual pixel values over time and applies a temporal vector filter to extract the frequency variance values (still with me?). The resulting frequency values / signal is then amplified and the different frequency bands are put back together so that the video feed appears near normal (that wasn’t so bad…).

The difference between the output and input video is that there are now specific filters that can be manipulated by the user in order to see the minute changes that are happpening. These changes are litereally at a micro level.

The image below is one of the practical examples that is shown in a video that has been released.

The top line image is the standard video – unfiltered.

The bottom line is the filtered video, with one of the filters set and magnified. When you watch the video, the subject’s face changes colour with every beat of his heart. This colour change is invisible to the human eye as it is so minute a change; but when amplified, the change becomes super obvious.

Now let your mind wander to the fields of possible application.

Medical — the heart rate monitoring machines in hospitals could be replaced by a camera fed to a computer running this filtering program. Babies and adults could have their heart rate monitored without the need to be strappped to machines.

If blood is not reaching parts of the body in adequate supply, it can be seen way before the impared blood flow proves harmful to the patient.

Law enforcement — the lie detector just got smarter. Lie detectors look for changes in breathing, heart rate and perspiration. Now police can physically see the changes in your body. As blood flushes your face just as you tell a lie, they can see it, no matter how much control you may have against the other means of detection.

Military — (this section is classified!) Satellite surveillance with this technology can detect changes in buildings and hostile armaments that were previously invisible due to the magnification not being great enough or the movements too small.

Geographical — small changes in the earth can be amplified and shown in real time. Imagine a time lapse of three years (and not 30 years) showing the recession of the glaciers or the melting of the polar ice caps — these videos can take on more meaning now as the movement can be amplified and the research conducted in a far shorter time.

I am sure that there are many more applications that I have not thought of yet. But surely if this technology reaches the mainstream, it is going to be one of those technologies that define a generation and change the course of history.

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