Face-recognition software, which pinpoints the classic eyes-nose-mouth configuration, has been in use for years. But detecting a human body—any human body—is much more Deva Ramanan
University of California at Irvine challenging for computers due to the endless variety of possible poses, angles, sizes, and outfits. Most researchers will feed a program millions of images to memorize, building a vast database of people. Ramanan, instead, trained his computer program to identify body parts and match them to a flexible human template. "You can think of it as a divide-and-conquer approach," he says. The software runs through a checklist: Arms, torso, legs? Check. Thus, a human. Ramanan's method is much faster and uses less processing power than the traditional one.