Object Detection using Haar feature-based cascade classifiers is an effective object detection method proposed by Paul Viola and Michael Jones in their paper, “Rapid Object Detection using a Boosted Cascade of Simple Features” in 2001. It is a machine learning based approach where a cascade function is trained from a lot of positive and negative images. It is then used to detect objects in other images.

Here we will work with face detection. Initially, the algorithm needs a lot of positive images (images of faces) and negative images (images without faces) to train the classifier. Then we need to extract features from it. For this, haar features shown in below image are used. They are just like our convolutional kernel. Each feature is a single value obtained by subtracting sum of pixels under white rectangle from sum of pixels under black rectangle.

 Face detection and Haar Cascades

Now all possible sizes and locations of each kernel is used to calculate plenty of features. (Just imagine how much computation it needs? Even a 24×24 window results over 160000 features). For each feature calculation, we need to find sum of pixels under white and black rectangles. To solve this, they introduced the integral images. It simplifies calculation of sum of pixels, how large may be the number of pixels, to an operation involving just four pixels

In an image, most of the image region is non-face region. So it is a better idea to have a simple method to check if a window is not a face region. If it is not, discard it in a single shot. Don’t process it again. Instead focus on region where there can be a face. This way, we can find more time to check a possible face region.

For this they introduced the concept of Cascade of Classifiers. Instead of applying all the 6000 features on a window, group the features into different stages of classifiers and apply one-by-one. (Normally first few stages will contain very less number of features). If a window fails the first stage, discard it. We don’t consider remaining features on it. If it passes, apply the second stage of features and continue the process. The window which passes all stages is a face region. How is the plan !!!

Authors’ detector had 6000+ features with 38 stages with 1, 10, 25, 25 and 50 features in first five stages. (Two features in the above image is actually obtained as the best two features from Adaboost). According to authors, on an average, 10 features out of 6000+ are evaluated per sub-window.

So this is a simple intuitive explanation of how Viola-Jones face detection works. Read paper for more details or check out the references in Additional Resources section.

HAAR-Cascade Detection using OpenCV

OpenCV comes with a trainer as well as detector. If you want to train your own classifier for any object like car, planes etc. you can use OpenCV to create one.

Here we will deal with detection. OpenCV already contains many pre-trained classifiers for face, eyes, smile etc. Those XML files are stored in opencv/data/haarcascades/ folder. Let’s create face and eye detector with OpenCV.

First we need to load the required XML classifiers. Then load our input image (or video) in grayscale mode.


HAAR Cascade

Code :

import io
import picamera
import sys
import cv2
import numpy

#Create a memory stream so photos doesn’t need to be saved in a file
stream = io.BytesIO()

#Get the picture (low resolution, so it should be quite fast)
#Here you can also specify other parameters (e.g.:rotate the image)
with picamera.PiCamera() as camera:
camera.resolution = (320, 240)
camera.capture(stream, format=’jpeg’)

#Convert the picture into a numpy array
buff = numpy.fromstring(stream.getvalue(), dtype=numpy.uint8)

#Now creates an OpenCV image
image = cv2.imdecode(buff, 1)

#Load a cascade file for detecting faces
face_cascade = cv2.CascadeClassifier(‘/home/pi/opencv/data/haarcascades/haarcascade_frontalface_alt.xml’)

#Convert to grayscale
gray = cv2.cvtColor(image,cv2.COLOR_BGR2GRAY)

#Look for faces in the image using the loaded cascade file
faces = face_cascade.detectMultiScale(gray, 1.1, 5)

print “Found “+str(len(faces))+” face(s)”

#Draw a rectangle around every found face
for (x,y,w,h) in faces:

#Save the result image



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