A 'heat mean signature' of a human hand is used to perceive the six segments of the overall shape and define the fingertips (Image: Purdue University/Karthik Ramani and Yi Fang)
When we see a hand, regardless of whether it's open, in a fist, or pointing a finger, we still recognize it as a hand. If a computer has only been taught to recognize an open hand, however, it will probably have no idea what a fisted hand is. Getting computer vision systems to interpret images more like people do - to realize that a fist is a hand, for instance - has been one of the aims of artificial intelligence researchers for some time now. Things in that field may be about to take a step forward, however, as scientists from Indiana's Purdue University have just announced two new methods of three-dimensional object recognition, both based around heat diffusion.