Image and video processing project

Another project, woopee!  In addition to senior design, I also get to do a project for my image and video processing class with Prof. Al Bovik.  He’s kind of a big deal; he wrote the books.  http://live.ece.utexas.edu/people/bovik/  Can I mention he looks like Frank Zappa?  I asked him if he liked Frank Zappa after class on Wednesday.  He pretty much said “yeah you shoulda seen me with hair!”  Good stuff, he’ll like this project then.

I propose (with the help of friend, team mate, lab partner Mark Hoover) to create an iPhone app that allows the user to take a picture of an album cover (vinyl) and search an online database.  Once the program has found a match, the album information is displayed and listening samples are available to the user.  The image processing involved with this project entails creating an efficient search algorithm and overcoming “bad data” (such as worn record, bad lighting, skew, rotation).

An app like this would be incredibly useful while perusing a record store or garage sale.  Nearly all record stores (not thrift stores though) have record players available for you to preview a record before you buy it.  They usually have 1, maybe 2 record players, usually being hogged by some annoying audiophile listening to the entire record to make sure it isn’t scratched.  Waiting for an open record player can take a while, especially if the store is busy.  Playing every interesting looking record would take forever!  (Then you’d be that annoying person hogging the record player).  So why not get a quick mp3 sample online before you commit to walking over to the record player and listening?  This would promote more impulsive vinyl purchases since more records are given a preview.  Garage sales and thrift stores won’t even have a record player available.  The online database could also note the rarity of the record, suggested price, liner notes, and interesting facts about the record.  That’s all the info you would need to make a knowledgeable purchase.

To my understanding, this exact application has not been done.  There currently exists an app that allows you to take a picture of the bar code of a book and the program searches for the cheapest book from various locations.  There’s also a similar one for other goods.  Of course, there’s Shazam [http://www.shazam.com/] that searches for what song you are listening to.

I know this is a good idea for a useful iPhone app and I don’t care if the idea is secret or not.  I’m sure someone out there is working on the same idea, hoping to make some money off it.  I am going to make this project regardless of someone else doing it too.  If this app works when its done, I would make it available for download on the iTunes store for free.  Surely, if there is money to be made on this project, it would be on the online database end, perhaps something with advertisements or the music licensing.  If such a product worked, surely a record store would want to invest in it.  It could help increase their sales!

I have always wanted to make an iPhone app.  It wouldn’t even have to be a useful app, I just want to make one and put it on my iTouch thingy.  Fortunately, this project would allow this app to be potentially useful.