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THE VIEW Positive Thinking

Bob McQueen Do you see what I see?

Bob McQueen is CEO of the 0Cash Company and Content Director at H3B Media Broadcast Services.;

machine vision. I was struck by the progress that has been made in taking a technology that was developed for very different applications than transportation and adapted for our uses. Te almost science fiction-like qualities of the technology are impressive. Gone are the old days of the analog cathode- ray tube and a series of transfers and conversions from analog to digital and back again. Today we can capture images digitally, transmit them digitally along our fiber-optic networks and view them digitally on our LCD and LED screens. For traffic video detection, the technology has improved in leaps and bounds incorporating long life cycle, remote management, data gathering capabilities and of course the video image that has so many benefits to an agency. However we still seem to exhibit some reluctance to completely embrace these new capabilities. A few years ago I studied the


development of traveler information and traffic management products and compared them to earlier technologies such as electricity transmission and the telephone. For both of these earlier technologies there was a significant gap between invention and productisation. In other words, the capability of the technology was well understood long before commercial products were made available. In many cases this is a reflection of the amount of resources required to take a basic invention and turn it into a product, but sometimes the customer or market reaction to the


uring one of our recent Positive Tinking web conferences we addressed the subject of

new technology can contribute to the delay. I wonder if such a lag is currently being experienced in machine vision uptake in transportation due to market acceptance and understanding of the capabilities of the new technology. Consider our old friend the inductive

loop. Tis technology has been used for more than 50 years in association with traffic signals, enabling the detection of vehicles queuing. For about 20 years now, we have been able to acquire an image processing or machine vision alternative to the inductive loop and yet as it stands today in the USA, only about 20 per cent of the intersections equipped with detection make use of video detection. Most make use of inductive loops and some make use of microwave detection technologies. Is this because the traffic signal engineer has such a long-term love affair with inductive loop technology or is it that the purveyors of the new technology could do a much better job in building awareness and communicating the value proposition of the new machine vision capabilities? Are we so conservative in

transportation that we will never find ourselves at the leading edge of adopting new technologies? Aſter all, as they say in Silicon Valley, the early bird catches the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese! Tis reminds me of the time when Dunlop was still a British- owned company making rubber tires. Tey introduced a special safety tire that would make it clear when the tire reached the legal minimum 2 mm tread depth by turning red. Nobody wanted to buy it. I also remember a specially equipped Volvo in the early days of the

European automated highway systems initiative that automatically obeyed the posted speed limits. Yes it was very safe but how dare you take away our freedom to break the speed limit! I remember been trained in marketing

and taught that in order to sell something to somebody you have to take them through a process known as AIDA – Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. In order for someone to buy your product they need to become aware of it, and then develop an interest in what it can do, and then the interest should then be converted in to a desire to acquire the product leading to the procurement action. In other words somebody buys it. Are our potential customers really

Are our potential customers really aware of the true capabilities of machine vision?

aware of the true capabilities of machine vision in vehicle detection, classification, enforcement and the even more intelligent capabilities of video analytics, especially in incident detection? Are we ready to pique their interest, convert it to a desire and then move them to action? Te 20 per cent market penetration figure can be viewed pessimistically or optimistically. From an optimistic point of view this means that 80 per cent of the market is still available to be converted. Is it time for us to get those machine vision missionaries trained, into the field and make more converts?

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Bob McQueen and Kevin Borras present the latest in Thinking Highways’ webinar series, Positive Thinking, this time focusing on Social Media’s effect on the ITS Sector, on Wednesday November 20 at noon EST, 9am PST. Visit http://thinkinghighways. com for more details

Vol 8 No 3 North America |||||||||

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