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October 08, 2013

Object Detection Takes WebRTC to Another Level

The many demos on offer at the WebRTC Conference and Expo earlier this year were, according to TMC executive editor Paula Bernier, often focused on simplicity, interoperability, rich media and fun. Indeed, these are some of the main areas of interest for WebRTC development. Now, a few months later, the development continues, particularly in the areas of rich media and fun, with some new projects based on JavaScript face detection based on the HTML5 getUserMedia API.

The getUserMedia API, in conjunction with the js-objectdetect JavaScript library for real-time object detection, can be used to create advanced recognition capabilities even within live WebRTC video streams. For example, it’s not too difficult to create simple face detection for humans and even cats, which can be used to, say, create fun visual effects that follow detected faces around the screen. This technology can even be used to detect nudity, which can be used to clean up the Internet for impressionable audiences.

Interestingly, js-objectdetect’s object detection scripts are based on OpenCV, which only has C++, C, Python and Java interfaces. So, js-objectdetect actually bases its feature detection on Haar Cascades in JavaScript, a partial OpenCV port.

Some cool demos out there right now based on manipulating the getUserMedia feed include Easy Mustache, which puts a mustache on your face; WebCamMesh, which projects webcam video onto a WebGL 3D Mesh; and even a game in which movement is controlled by tracking the player’s head with WebRTC and getUserMedia. Of course, these are just some basic ways to leverage getUserMedia, but more serious, better polished applications are certainly only a matter of time.

In fact, these seemingly silly applications are playing their part in forwarding WebRTC, acting as a stepping off point for further development. Realtime Responsive Typography, for example, uses similar principles as the examples above to adjust the font on a browser screen to the distance the user’s face is from the monitor. With further development, and a bit of imagination, the possibilities are endless.

Edited by Alisen Downey
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