One of the most crucial phases in creating computer vision and image recognition systems, which entails identifying, getting, characterizing, and evaluating outcomes from digital images or videos, is image annotation.
AI applications frequently employ computer vision, including security, medical imaging, autonomous cars, and others. As a result, image annotation is essential for developing AI/ML in many fields and sectors.
Before we dig deep into the topic, let us discuss some basic nuances of image annotation.
Adding labels to an image is known as an image annotation. These labels are set by the AI engineer and are selected to provide details about what is seen in the image to the computer vision model.
The number of labels on an image might be different according to the project. A single label will sufficiently convey the complete image's information (image classification) for specific projects. Other applications need many items labeled with distinct labels inside a single photograph.
Three crucial elements are required to annotate an image:
Finding and training annotators to complete the annotation tasks is the first step in most image annotation initiatives. Although AI is highly specialized, annotating AI training data is not always necessary. While a master's degree in machine learning is required to build a self-driving automobile, it is not needed to draw boxes around cars in photos (bounding box annotation). As a result, few annotators hold degrees in machine learning.
However, because each organization will have distinct needs, these annotators should get in-depth training on the requirements and norms of each annotation project.
After receiving training on annotating the data, the annotation team will begin working on hundreds or thousands of photos on a platform specifically designed for image annotation. This platform's software needs to be equipped with all the tools required for the particular kind of annotation to be done.
There are many different image annotation methods and techniques, but it doesn't imply you should use them all. Understanding the most popular image annotation methods and techniques along with use cases will help you decide which annotation tool to use for your project and what it requires.
Rectangles are drawn around symmetrical items like furniture, vehicles, and packages using bounding boxes. This facilitates object detection and algorithm localization, which is essential for driverless cars.
Self-driving automobiles can navigate the roadways securely with annotations of people, traffic signals, and vehicles. Bounding boxes come in two and three dimensions (cuboids).
Segmentation goes beyond object identification and picture categorization. With this technique, a picture is divided into several parts, each of which is given a label. Since each segment consists of pixels, each pixel has a label, which increases the accuracy of the annotation.
Three categories of segmentation exist:
1. Semantic segmentation
Semantic segmentation involves grouping an image into clusters and giving each group a label. Consider that we have a picture of three sheep. Each sheep will be counted as a separate cluster for semantic segmentation. The sky will serve as the background, which will also be considered.
2. Instance segmentation
Objects' existence, position, form, and number are determined through instance segmentation. For example, instance segmentation may count the number of persons in a picture. Let's revisit the sheep illustration. Even though they are given the same name, each sheep will be counted as a different instance in the instance segmentation scenario.
3. Panoptic segmentation
Instance segmentation and semantic segmentation converge in panoptic segmentation. It semantically segments the image and categorizes each pixel, identifying the instances to which each pixel belongs (instance segmentation). Each sheep will be tallied independently in our case, even if all the pixels in the image will be given names.
3. Skeletal Annotation
Skeletal annotation draws attention to body alignment and mobility. Annotators use this technique to connect lines on the human body by adding dots at the locations where the lines articulate. For instance, a line from a point on the wrist to a point on the elbow is then connected to the shoulder, and so on.
This produces a condensed representation of a body's location that computers can recognize. This approach is used for video in most sports use cases, requiring annotators to precisely identify body postures over tens of thousands of individual frames.
4. Bitmask Annotation
This annotation style permits gaps or disjointed annotations by connecting individual pixels to particular objects.
The edges of objects with asymmetrical shapes, such as rooftops, plants, and landmarks, are annotated using polygons.
By placing dots around the target item, such as facial characteristics, body parts, and stances, key points are used to annotate microscopic shapes and details.
To achieve certain annotation objectives, any of the aforementioned annotation approaches can be combined. AI firms have freedom and alternatives when organizing annotation projects as the company can also do customised annotations as per the requirements.
When employing computer vision (CV) models, image annotation is extremely important for machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Across sectors, the advantages and significance of picture annotation services are becoming recognized. In 2023, the market for AI and machine learning data solutions is predicted to reach $1.2 billion.
Here are some examples of how businesses in various industries use image annotation services to their advantage.
Transportation: CV is used by self-driving automobiles, which are a reality today. Advanced machine learning algorithms must power these vehicles to ensure their efficiency and safety. Automobile makers may create intelligent apps for these autonomous vehicles with picture annotation.
Healthcare: In healthcare, CV can assist increase the precision of the diagnosis and raise the standard of care. With image annotation, CV systems may use CT scans, MRIs, and other diagnostic technologies to focus on patterns and problems like tumors or hairline fractures.
Agriculture: Precision agriculture combines established farming practices with cutting-edge technology to increase profitability, production, and sustainability. CV systems make it feasible to forecast agricultural output, assess plant health, and improve soil quality. In modern agriculture, robotics, GPS sensors, and drones play significant roles.
eCommerce and retail: Annotating images may improve clients' user experiences and aid them in selecting the best items. When an annotation is appropriately done, each item on the website will have precise descriptions and labels. Annotation ensures that the products are correctly categorized, improving search results. Additionally, it helps to improve visual search.
The goal of image annotation is to make the most of technology, and it is something that will never go away. When key AI projects need image annotation, most AI organizations use expert data labeling services.
Businesses that provide expert data labeling services, like Cogito or Anolytics, appen, or any other, have skilled experts to help with data labeling and annotation. These companies can tailor their services to your unique needs as they provide seamless project management, quality control, and lower overheads.