Assistant Professor - Expertise Centre for Digital Media - Hasselt University

Research Projects


Natural Objects Rendering for Economic AI Models (NORM.AI)
Natural objects (vegetables, fruits, food, etc.) are omnipresent in different industrial applications: food sorting, vegetable spray treatments, precision & automated farming, etc. Automating these applications to deal with large variabilities of natural objects (object's detection, recognition, pose estimation, etc.), requires innovative technologies that are enabled by Artificial Intelligence (AI) that has the ability to generalize to variabilities. However, training these AI models would require thousands of images / videos with detailed annotations of different items. In the state of the art, one needs >10k images to (re-)train an AI model with an accuracy of >90%, when, in average one minute is needed to annotate one 'real' image, however these can increase drastically depending on the use case at hand and the variability around it. The more variability one wants to cover, the more training images are needed. These findings clearly indicate that in order to be able to deploy AI models in the industrial applications, innovative techniques are highly needed to remove the burdens of data annotations. These techniques need also to be easily usable by end users to avoid large amount of manual work to update the proposed methodology to new applications. NORM.AI builds further on the successful results from PILS SBO, where rendering techniques were applied to industrial products with CAD (Computer Aided Design) information, to retrieve AI (synthetic) training data from updated CAD with radiance models. While CAD facilitates synthetic data generation in PILS SBO by providing a reference model to start rendering from, the goal of NORM.AI project is to extend this research to Natural objects where no CAD is available. Therefore, defining a reference model to start rendering from, is part of the research in the project. Creating variations from the reference model that takes both spatial & time changes of the natural objects and the natural scenes, as well as finding a sweet spot between real data augmentation techniques & synthetic data generation techniques constitute another research challenge in the project. This research will allow to identify economic scenarios of training data generation, taking into account their effect into AI model's accuracy and robustness. The project focuses into three research applications: 1. Food sorting applications, where 2D images are used to detect & sort fruits & vegetables, as they are coming, for example, in a conveyor system. 2. Crop monitoring applications, where images from 2D cameras, for example, installed in a harvester, are used to detect vine's rows, crop distribution, etc.\ 3. Weed monitoring applications, where 2D images guide a spraying system to locally spray weeds in a high precision.


MAX-R (EU Innovation Action)
MAX-R is a 30-month IA that will define, develop and demonstrate a complete pipeline of tools for making, processing and delivering maximum-quality XR content in real time. The pipeline will be based on open APIs, open file and data transfer formats to encourage development and support the integration of new open source and proprietary tools. MAX-R builds on recent research and advances in Virtual Production technologies to develop real-time processes to deliver better quality, greater efficiency, enhanced interactivity, and novel content based on XR media data. The interdisciplinary Consortium of eleven partners from five countries covers the chain from technology development and product innovation to creative experiment and demonstration, and from XR media creation to delivery to the final consumer. It is built around Europe’s leading media technology developers, together with creative organisations operating in AR/VR/MR, Virtual Production, interactive games, new media, TV, video and news, multimedia and immersive performance.


Deep learning is an artificial intelligence technology that has shown great potential in a large variety of applications (Figure 1). When applied to image analysis, it is an essential enabler for automation of repetitive but complex quality inspection tasks, development of robots that can recognize and manipulate objects, etc. So far, the use of this powerful technology requires deep technical knowledge of training strategies and a large amount of hand-annotated images, i.e. a long and costly development process. Currently the deployment of this technology delivers inconsistent results of variable performance, and it is difficult to debug and maintain. The goal of the FARAD2SORT project is to realize a technological framework to help engineers that have a general understanding of deep learning technology, but are not experts in it, to design, develop, and deploy deep learning vision based on 2D images for applications that require industrial object detection, object recognition and surface defects / anomaly detection & classification. The FARAD2SORT results will build on existing open-source deep learning software by adding tools that will make implementation easier, cheaper and more accurate and robust.


The project aims to reduce the deployment costs of computer vision systems for quality control in manufacturing and assembly, by virtue of requiring less data acquisition and labeling effort (i.e. supervision) while increasing the robustness. The main goal of this project is to research how the amount of real-world training data can be reduced to make visual inspection algorithms work in a low volume manufacturing context. A common approach to cope with a small training data set is data augmentation: slightly distorting the available data points to create new points that still belong to the same category. In vision, this usually consists of randomly applying straightforward variations such as cropping, rotating, scaling, mirroring, color balancing, and/or adjusting brightness of the entire collection of training pictures to create many slightly modified copies. The actual products are three-dimensional objects and their visual appearance is governed by complex material properties, lighting conditions, and geometrical detail. This project will try to accomplish this by integrating computer graphics and computer vision technology to generate synthetic variations of the above-mentioned complex visual effects. Furthermore, synthetic defects can be introduced. In this way, a large labelled synthetic data set is obtained and can be used as training input for a visual inspection algorithm. The framework developed in this project can be used to significantly accelerate the development of specialized machine learning algorithms to identify a product, perceive its pose, detect defects, and track the progress of assembly.


An image-based capturing method of assembly workstation resources. This task will focus on setting up such an image-based capturing approach. The initial focus will be on a monocular handheld capturing device, such as a portable camera. Poses of the camera will be estimated by using a Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM) algorithm or an offline calibration process. Depending on the required quality, certain markers will have to be placed within the captured scene. Otherwise, natural feature tracking will be utilized as a fallback approach. Once the images are captured, they will have to be compressed in a format that allows rapid low-latency streaming and decoding on the GPU. Most existing compression formats, such as H.264, are sequential in nature and do not allow for random access to frames. In this task, an efficient retrieval scheme will be devised to get around this limitation.


ImmCyte - Immuno Cytometry
This project’s aim is to improve insight in and exploit immune cell complexity in chronic infection disease models and in neurodegeneration, by means of new cellular phenotyping technologies (Single Cell Sequencing and Multi-Parametric High-Content Imaging on non-adherent cells).

Single-Cell Image and Data Analysis:
To develop methods for large scale data handling and processing (>10X to current image sets from standard High-Content Imaging)
To develop methods for cell segmentation, feature extraction and cell classification
To enable analysis of large scale heterogeneous cell populations, utilizing high-dimensional phenotypic signatures


Exascience Life Lab: High-Throughput Plate Processing in Cellprofiler


HiViZ - iMinds visualization research program


Remixing Reality
Computer-generated graphics and imagery have become ubiquitous in numerous fields including film, computer games, medical and scientific visualization, architecture, tele-collaboration, virtual walkthroughs, advertising, and social internet applications. However, generating and integrating truly realistic synthetic imagery and photographs or video remains cumbersome, challenging and prohibitively computationally expensive. We propose to overcome these difficulties by developing a novel representation of moving 3D objects and scenery, that will bridge the gap between geometry-based approaches (such as triangle meshes) traditionally used for modeling and rendering, and pixel-based approaches traditionally used for images and videos. By combining the advantages of both approaches, we will enable new applications such as interactively navigating 3D video environments augmented with virtual objects (and vice versa) while maintaining fully realistic appearance and lighting.


SCENE - Novel Scene Representation for Richer Networked Media (EU)
The objective is to create and deliver richer media experiences. The SCENE representation and its associated tools will make it possible to capture 3D video, combine video seamlessly with CGI, and manipulate and deliver it to either 2D or 3D platforms in either linear or interactive form.