International Journal of Computer Vision

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 17-42

First online:

Toward color image segmentation in analog VLSI: Algorithm and hardware

  • Ffrank PerezAffiliated withComputation and Neural Systems Program, 216-76, California Institute of Technology
  • , Christof KochAffiliated withComputation and Neural Systems Program, 216-76, California Institute of Technology

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Standard techniques for segmenting color images are based on finding normalized RGB discontinuities, color histogramming, or clustering techniques in RGB or CIE color spaces. The use of the psychophysical variable hue in HSI space has not been popular due to its numerical instability at low saturations. In this article, we propose the use of a simplified hue description suitable for implementation in analog VLSI. We demonstrate that if theintegrated white condition holds, hue is invariant to certain types of highlights, shading, and shadows. This is due to theadditive/shift invariance property, a property that other color variables lack. The more restrictive uniformly varying lighting model associated with themultiplicative/scale invariance property shared by both hue and normalized RGB allows invariance to transparencies, and to simple models of shading and shadows. Using binary hue discontinuities in conjunction with first-order type of surface interpolation, we demonstrate these invariant properties and compare them against the performance of RGB, normalized RGB, and CIE color spaces. We argue that working in HSI space offers an effective method for segmenting scenes in the presence of confounding cues due to shading, transparency, highlights, and shadows. Based on this work, we designed and fabricated for the first time an analog CMOS VLSI circuit with on-board phototransistor input that computes normalized color and hue.