Meet Dr Zdenek Kalal

Friday 25 March 2011

A computer technology student at the University of Surrey working on real time visual tracking systems which could help the disabled use computers has been praised after winning a national award as one of the UK’s most exceptional researchers.

Zdenek Kalal, who studies at the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing, was presented with the ‘Technology Everywhere’ award at a ceremony hosted by EPSRC, the UK's research funding council, and IBM, for his work on a smart camera tracking techniques. The award recognises his contribution to developing computing technologies that impact modern society.

His project entitled 'Predator: A Smart Camera that Learns from Experience' examines the challenges in following an object moving through video. The system can follow objects, for example, it can track a tip of a pen that can be held in the mouth and act as a computer mouse for a paralyzed person.

In contrast to other tracking techniques, Predator learns from mistakes and is then able to make better decisions in the future - resulting in a unique, real-time visual tracking system that improves its performance over time with the end result resembling the performance of human vision.

“I really like to work on problems that may have impact very soon and to provide simple solutions that can be applied in various areas,” said Zdenek during his presentation in London.

Dr Krystian Mikolajczyk, Zdenek's PhD supervisor, said, “Zdenek's success is a result of his persistence and extremely hard work for three years of his study.

“This research has an enormous application potential. We all know the success of Kinect from Microsoft, which relies on a very similar technology. It can also be used in other areas such as human computer interactions, augmented reality, video post-production, motion capture, visual surveillance, robot navigation and assisted driving.”

Zdenek has already presented his research results at major international conferences in Japan, China, USA, as well as Europe and it attracted a great interest from the scientists and industrialists.

Key representatives from industry and academia joined Government Ministers from the Department of Business Innovation and Skills at the awards ceremony for ICT pioneers held at Church House Conference Centre in London.

Notes to Editors:

The UK ICT Pioneers competition, aims to recognise the most exceptional UK PhD students in ICT-related topics (including computer science, electronics, communications and photonics) who can innovatively demonstrate the exploitation potential of their research.

From over 80 entries, 20 shortlisted projects were selected and their projects showcased at the event. A winner was selected in each of the 5 categories and they were awarded £2000 each.

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