An overwhelming 96% of respondents believe that computer vision has the potential to boost revenue, while 97% said these technologies will save their organization time and money, according to a new IDG study commissioned by Insight. While only 10% of organizations are using CV today, 37% said they have definite plans to implement and 44% report they are investigating the technology, the study said.
Computer vision is a type of artificial intelligence technology that allows computers to understand, analyze and respond to digital images or videos. “Data from those devices is uploaded to the cloud or the edge, then processed through computer vision models that detect and analyze them,” said Amol Ajgaonkar, chief architect of intelligent edge at Insight. The study was conducted to better understand the awareness, adoption and perceptions of CV. “Simply put, it’s a deep learning algorithm that analyzes images and videos and can react to what it ‘sees.'”
The “Early Adopters See Value in Computer Vision” report also found that 45% of respondents believe there are opportunities for cost-cutting and efficiency gains, while an equal percentage cited the technology as an innovation driver, including its ability to propel new products and services to market.
Why CV now
There has been an influx of new products geared toward AI and computer vision over the last five years, but Aigaonkar said Insight believes “that we are now at the threshold of exiting the ‘early adopters’ stage to entering a stage where businesses implementing CV are part of an ‘early majority,’ anticipating that down the road, of course, enterprise-wide CV usage will be the norm.”
He noted that 75% of enterprises will shift from piloting to operationalizing artificial intelligence by the end of 2024, according to Gartner. “We are at a pivotal moment for adoption.”
CV has the potential to transform key areas of businesses, for example, in the energy and resources sector, Ajgaonkar said, where many businesses are using CV for employee safety.
“For example, stationary cameras or remotely operated drones dramatically reduce the need for manual inspection of pipelines, electrical lines or wind turbines,” he said. “Flagging anomalies that require human intervention empowers employees to shift focus from finding problems to fixing them. This sector also utilizes CV for process optimization and energy efficiency by analyzing satellite imagery, monitoring weather conditions and improving the accuracy of power requirement estimates by region.”
Manufacturers typically implement CV for quality control and process optimization, using systems to perform inspections with greater accuracy and at higher speeds than human workers, he said.
“Beyond the production line, these systems have significant potential to augment or automate tedious, dangerous or expensive work, such as routine cycle counts and equipment inspections,” Aigonkar said. CV is also useful for security in warehouse environments.
In retail, CV is often applied for inventory optimization and to improve customer experience, ensuring that products are properly stocked and to monitor checkout lines, curbside pickups, and to keep an eye out for product spills, he said.
“We see major successes with CV implementation across sectors–in utilities, transportation, manufacturing and production, retail and healthcare,” Ajgaonkar said. In all of these verticals, the use of CV improves efficiency to free up employees to focus on more mission-critical tasks, he said.
The increased adoption of AI and the internet of things proliferating across industries, is making CV something organizations should pay attention to now, he said.
“This trend is only going to continue as companies begin to develop competitive advantages in areas like safety, security and customer experience with CV—not to mention, significant opportunities for cost-cutting and reducing waste,” Ajaonkar said.
CV is also helping bring innovative ideas and products to life, Ajgaonkar added. “For example, radar, LiDAR and infrared systems have been foundational to the development of autonomous vehicles,” he said.
“We were not surprised to find computer vision squarely in the awareness phase,” he said. “It’s an extremely complex emerging technology that requires a significant investment, with an average return of two to three years and real-world examples just starting to materialize to prove the business case.”
Business executives understand the value
The top four cited ways organizations have or are planning to implement CV include:
Improving security, e.g., detecting unauthorized entry (78%)
Improving employee safety, e.g., detecting equipment malfunctions (71%)
Anomaly defect detection during production/manufacturing (58%)
Improving customer experiences, e.g., identify long checkout lines or overcrowded areas to redirect traffic or bolster customer service where needed (58%)
“If you imagine a world where workers didn’t have to go into ‘danger zones,’ or quality control moved from a manual review process to an entirely automated one, intelligent use of cameras can orchestrate smoother operations,” Aigaonkar said.
Insight recently worked with a printer ink manufacturer to use computer vision to count pallets with the quick snap of photos, enabling people with disabilities to take on greater warehouse responsibilities while creating more accurate inventory counts, he said.
Similarly, the company helped a steel company identify hazardous materials before they inadvertently landed in a smelter to be recycled.
Goals for implementing vary based on industry
Business executive respondents said they saw clear advantages to how computer vision can improve their organizations, according to the report, including:
The elimination of tedious, expensive or dangerous work is a motivation for 58% of manufacturers and 49% in retail and wholesale distribution.
Augmenting current processes and improving employee experiences is a driving factor for 47% in the energy sector, 46% in healthcare and 43% in manufacturing.
53% of respondents in the energy and utility sector said CV is a way to stay ahead of the competition, and 41% from transportation agreed.
Respondents from the energy (56%) and healthcare (51%) sectors said they recognize the technology can help to deliver new, more innovative products and services to their customers. Only 44% of retailers ranked this outcome as a priority, indicating that they may be missing an opportunity for growth and differentiation.