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The Amazing Human Eye

Updated on April 16, 2017

Introduction

The human eye is a very complex organ. It does so much, and yet it is elegant. There are some attributes that no machines can duplicate even in 2017.

- Apr. 2017



Background

The human eye has many attributes. Some of which is designed for our survival. Other's are for esthetics. Some are even hard to comprehend. Here is a list of attributes...

  • Bi focal for judging distance.
  • See colors (up to millions of shades).
  • See details up close and far.
  • periphral vision.
  • tear ducts to lubricate and clean the lens.
  • eyelids and blinking to protect the eye.
  • can see under water.
  • can adapt to light intensity. (dynamic range greater than any CCD device)
  • integrated to our brain for additional processing
  • spot faces and patterns (pattern recognition)

Some Details...

We all know the rapid development of the digital camera. From a few short years ago, it has progressed in resolution and quality and speed. However, as much improved as these advanced digital cameras are, they are no match to the human visual system.

It is with the advent of artificial intelligence and robotics that we are beginning to comprehend this. These systems are still in its infancy having been researched for 50 years or so. Why is it so difficult? Because the electro mechanical machines are no match for our superior biological system. In some areas, they do have an advantage. For example, robotics can go to extreme environments where humans cannot. They can lift heavy loads much greater than a human. However, they are limited by their design.

Take the photo sensors for example. These CCD devices are suppose to be the eyes for these robots. They are limited by the level of the light signal. In very low light areas, they don't work very well. There are night vision devices but they are limited by the range. A sudden flash can kill the CCD.

Now let's look at the human solution. Our visual system can do so much more with ease. We don't need special devices. We can adapt to a dark theater to bright sun light within a few minutes. We can see under water, waterproof, and we can see in sand storms or blizzards wih goggles. The eye never needs maintenance. The lens is always clean. We can spot a pattern or a face with only a handful of pixels. A digital camera and all the image processing cannot compete with our facial recognition system.

Analog vs. Digital...

Which is better? In the case of the human eye and imaging, it is clear for the professionals that analogy is superior to digital. Take photography for example. Digital cameras have the advantage of speed. However, photographic film has the advantage of image quality, better details in the dark or shadow areas and it have no artifacts such as moire patterns. Our human visual system is analog while digital cameras and video cameras are digital based CCD.

Another Example

Recently, I had the opportunity to have dinner in the St. George Winery Restaurant. It was an old Stone Catholic Church converted to a wine tasting restaurant. They preserved the building exterior and did a great job with the interior decor. One unique aspect was the stain glass window.

It was near sunset and the stain glass look spetacular from our seats. I wanted to capture the moment and took out my camera. The result was very disappointing. You cannot see any details of the stain glass window. Another example of where our human eye is so much superior to the best camera we can build.

St. George Winery

Stain glass Window details...After Sunset

Summary

The human visual system is an amazing organ. It is not just a physical organ but it is integrated with our amazing brain. That is why we have an advantage over the robots for now and for years to come.

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