International Journal of Computer Vision

, Volume 127, Issue 2, pp 207–224 | Cite as

Efficiently Annotating Object Images with Absolute Size Information Using Mobile Devices

  • Martin HofmannEmail author
  • Marco Seeland
  • Patrick Mäder


The projection of a real world scenery to a planar image sensor inherits the loss of information about the 3D structure as well as the absolute dimensions of the scene. For image analysis and object classification tasks, however, absolute size information can make results more accurate. Today, the creation of size annotated image datasets is effort intensive and typically requires measurement equipment not available to public image contributors. In this paper, we propose an effective annotation method that utilizes the camera within smart mobile devices to capture the missing size information along with the image. The approach builds on the fact that with a camera, calibrated to a specific object distance, lengths can be measured in the object’s plane. We use the camera’s minimum focus distance as calibration distance and propose an adaptive feature matching process for precise computation of the scale change between two images facilitating measurements on larger object distances. Eventually, the measured object is segmented and its size information is annotated for later analysis. A user study showed that humans are able to retrieve the calibration distance with a low variance. The proposed approach facilitates a measurement accuracy comparable to manual measurement with a ruler and outperforms state-of-the-art methods in terms of accuracy and repeatability. Consequently, the proposed method allows in-situ size annotation of objects in images without the need for additional equipment or an artificial reference object in the scene.


Size annotation Size measurement In-situ size annotation minimum focus distance Absolute size Mobile device 



We would like to thank all participants of our user experiment for supporting our work. We are funded through a scholarship of the Friedrich Naumann Stiftung; the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) Grants: 01LC1319A and 01LC1319B; the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) Grant: 3514 685C19; and the Stiftung Naturschutz Thüringen (SNT) Grant: SNT-082-248-03/2014.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Technische Universität IlmenauIlmenauGermany

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