Gauging materials’ physical properties from video

Illustration: Christine Daniloff/MIT
Illustration: Christine Daniloff/MIT
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Last summer, CSAIL researchers published a paper describing an algorithm that can recover intelligible speech from the analysis of the minute vibrations of objects in video captured through soundproof glass.

In June, at the Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, researchers from the same groups will describe how the technique can be adapted to infer material properties of physical objects, such as stiffness and weight, from video.

The technique could have application in the field of “nondestructive testing,” or determining materials’ physical properties without extracting samples from them or subjecting them to damaging physical tests. It might be possible, for instance, to identify structural defects in an airplane’s wing by analyzing video of its vibration during flight.

“One of the big contributions of this work is connecting techniques in computer vision to established theory on physical vibrations and to a whole body of work in nondestructive testing in civil engineering,” says Abe Davis, an MIT graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science who, together with fellow graduate student Katie Bouman, is first author on the paper. “We make this connection pretty explicitly in the paper, which is I think where a lot of the future potential lies, because it bridges these fields.”



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