ROCHESTER, N.Y. - An image of a bird sometime in the future may be more than just a picture. It could also carry data and models that can produce the bird's song, display its feeding or mating behavior, and describe its habitat and food preferences, according to Siddhartha Dalal of Xerox Corporation (NYSE: XRX), who today described his vision of "ubiquitous imaging" in a keynote address here at the International Congress of Imaging Science. He was one of several Xerox scientists presenting at the conference this week.
Dalal is vice president and manager of Xerox's Imaging and Services Technology Center, the focal point for the company's core research in digital imaging, document management and services. He uses the term ubiquitous imaging to suggest a time when information and images are totally merged, and imaging is everywhere yet unobtrusive.
"The whole nature of imaging is changing. What the industry needs to work toward is a time when information and imaging are synonymous," Dalal explains. "My view is that automation will be driven not by a system or a device, but by the image itself."
Pointing to the abundance of devices that display and transport images today, from camera phones to monitors and scanners, he predicts that over the next 20 years the images will become more important than the devices that display them, and they will fit as naturally into our work and home environments as electricity does today.
All the information necessary for human interactions will be embedded in the images, producing what he calls robust images.
For example, information carried in an empowered image will enable it to arrange itself to display differently on the small screen of a mobile phone and the large screen of a monitor, or will enable a black-and-white image to transform itself into a color image.
His concept parallels the ubiquitous computing model, which gained currency after it was described 15 years ago by Mark Weiser, a scientist at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center envisioning a future where everything is intelligent and connected. The goal of both ubiquitous computing and ubiquitous imaging is to enable devices to sense changes and be able to automatically adapt and act according to those changes. This makes imaging and information far more tailored to individual needs.
In a separate session at the conference, Xerox principal scientist Raja Bala presented his observations on future directions for digital color imaging - a discipline in which Xerox scientists are doing leading-edge work. According to Bala, the industry must progress beyond current imaging techniques to provide a richer color imaging experience to people.
He believes that the next generation of color imaging must encompass higher dimensions of spectral, spatial, and goniometric effects (measurement of angular effects, such as gloss). To satisfy the needs of skilled color experts and consumers alike, the industry needs to consider trends in color device technologies, the role of human color perception, the importance of systems thinking, synergies across different imaging disciplines, and intelligent human-computer interfaces as they progress.
Other Xerox researchers presenting their work at the conference include Karen Braun, Yongsoon Eun, Eric S. Hamby, John C. Handley, Palghat Ramesh, and Wencheng Wu. The quadrennial International Congress of Imaging Science brings together imaging scientists and technologists to share the latest advances in all areas of imaging.
Imaging and color research presented at the conference are key components of Xerox's smart document research, which makes digital documents "smarter" by adding intelligence and structure so that the information they contain can be automatically used to make decisions or take actions.