INFORMATION FOR MEDIA
What is V&L Net?
The EPSRC Network on Vision and Language (V&L Net) is a research network funded by the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). V&L Net is aimed mainly at UK-based researchers but also has many international associate members.
What does V&L Net do?
Our main purpose is to stimulate and pump-prime research that brings together computer vision and language processing technology in order to tackle some of today's urgent computational challenges including image and video search and accessibility tools for visually impaired internet users.
We organise annual V&L Net meetings which combine the characteristics of an academic conference, networking event and art exhibition.
The V&L Net website offers a range of services to network members, including a searchable database of experts and repositories of downloadable publications, data and software.
What sort of research do V&L Net members do?
The research challenges that V&L Net members work on cover a wide range of different topics involving computer vision and language processing techniques, and include real-world applications as well as theoretical approaches.
Here are some examples of real-world challenges from the domain of V&L
- With more than 4.2 million CCTV cameras now operating in the UK, police services have a huge and ever growing mountain of potential visual evidence which can in theory help solve crime. However, in practice police do not perform "the very tedious job of sifting through footage for less than very serious crimes" and so e.g. only 3% of London's street robberies are currently being solved using security cameras (BBC News online, 6 May 2008). V&L Net members are working towards software tools capable of sifting through CCTV footage automatically and locating sequences matching a given type of crime.
- UK disability discrimination legislation and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) guidelines are clear - visually impaired and fully sighted internet users should have equal access to websites. However, the reality is starkly different: according to one study by accessability experts Nomensa, nearly 75% of FTSE 100 company websites fail to meet even the minimum W3C accessibility requirements; web accessibility has entered the courts in the US and Australia (here, the Olympic Committee was successfully sued for not making the 2000 Olympic Games web-pages accessible. On its website, the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) compares the web experience of VI users to visiting your favourite shop, finding it open for business, but its doors locked to you, while open to others. V&L Net members are working towards software tools that can help visually impaired internet users to gain some access to all visual content, for example automatic image description tools.