Bristol Vision Institute (BVI) was formed in 2008 on the basis of strength across disciplines. It brings together some 170 associates from engineering, computer science, biological sciences, psychology, ophthalmology, history of art, film & television and medicine with the aim of addressing grand challenges in vision research.
BVI is one of the largest vision groups in Europe, and is unique worldwide in terms of its scope. It is particularly proud to have hosted the EPSRC Platform Grant in vision science and engineering - Vision for the Future. BVI offers unequalled potential for progressing vision research in its broadest sense - from perception to application.
It is estimated that about half of the cortical matter in the human brain is involved in processing visual information. This reflects the significance of vision for function and survival but also explains its capacity to entertain, challenge and inform. It further explains why we can build computers that beat us at chess (and even Go) but cannot yet emulate the complex processes that make up the human visual system.
Vision is central to the way humans and other animals interact with our world. For example: the mammalian visual system is used by cheetahs to implement stable locomotion at over 80 km/h, and by humans to thread a needle with sub-millimetre accuracy; the mantis shrimp uses 12 colour channels together with polarisation and it possesses the fastest and most accurate strike in the animal kingdom; fruit flies perform remarkable visual tasks at retinal bit rates of approximately 200 bits per second, compared to several millions of bits per second for most entertainment or surveillance systems. Video is THE key driver of the internet - YouTube video accounts for 25% of all internet traffic and, by 2019, CISCO predict that video will account for 86% of all traffic with total annual IP data traffic rising to 2 zettabytes. These examples highlight the significance of vision in terms of our fundamental understanding of the world and our interactions with it.
BVI’s primary focus is on developing a better understanding of the visual mechanisms and processes evolved in humans and other animals, and on translating these to innovations in technology, medicine and the creative arts. Our primary work programme spans three highly coupled themes:
- Visual engagement. Only through measurement of immersion can we truly understand the influence of technology (display format, dynamic range, compression and viewing environment) on the creative process and user experience. This is essential, for example, if we are to understand the impact of emerging formats on cinematography and are to develop the next generations of camera and display technology.
- Vision in motion. Our work links vision, body dynamics and the analysis of visual environments, with applications across autonomous systems, healthcare,
rehabilitation and disease impact, and motion capture for rehearsal and animation.
- Finding and hiding things. By better understanding biological vision systems and visual environments we will drive new solutions in visual search, scene
understanding, quality assessment, surveillance, navigation, medical treatments and ophthalmology.
‘Outbreath’ is a life-size document of one two hundredth of a second in the growth and decay of the normally invisible turbulence trail formed during exhalation. It was created by local artist Mat Chivers in collaboration with BVI researchers Colin Dalton and Neill Campbell and with the BBC Natural History Unit.