Glass recognises numbers just by looking

A piece of glass, with a clever in-built structure, can mimic machine visual perception...
01 November 2019
Presented by Matthew Hall
Production by Matthew Hall.


Light passing through “smart” glass is bent in a particular pattern depending on the scene, image or (in this case) written number facing the glass. If the light matches an expected pattern, the glass “recognizes” what it sees.


We have smartphones, smart watches, even smart fridges. But now, from a paper published in the journal Photonics Research, we could be seeing smart glass. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison created a piece of glass that can mimic machine visual perception, basically how smart phones recognize your face to unlock the device, without needing any camera sensors, computer chips, or even a power supply! All the glass needs is light and tiny imperfections called “bubbles” within the glass to direct that light appropriately. Right now it has the capability to tell, in real time, whether someone has written the number two, or eight, or any number 1-10, even if the numbers are written in different fonts. Naked Scientist Matthew Hall has reached out to co-author Zongfu Yu to get the motivation behind such smart technology…


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