Source: Fluid Annotation: An Exploratory Machine Learning–Powered Interface for Faster Image Annotation from Google Research
Posted by Jasper Uijlings and Vittorio Ferrari, Senior Research Scientists, Machine Perception
The performance of modern deep learning-based computer vision models, such as those implemented by the TensorFlow Object Detection API, depends on the availability of increasingly large, labeled training datasets, such as Open Images. However, obtaining high-quality training data is quickly becoming a major bottleneck in computer vision. This is especially the case for pixel-wise prediction tasks such as semantic segmentation, used in applications such as autonomous driving, robotics, and image search. Indeed, traditional manual labeling tools require an annotator to carefully click on the boundaries to outline each object in the image, which is tedious: labeling a single image in the COCO+Stuff dataset takes 19 minutes, while labeling the whole dataset would take over 53k hours!
|Example of image in the COCO dataset (left) and its pixel-wise semantic labeling (right). Image credit: Florida Memory, original image.|
In “Fluid Annotation: A Human-Machine Collaboration Interface for Full Image Annotation”, to be presented at the Brave New Ideas track of the 2018 ACM Multimedia Conference, we explore a machine learning–powered interface for annotating the class label and outline of every object and background region in an image, accelerating the creation of labeled datasets by a factor of 3x.
Fluid Annotation starts from the output of a strong semantic segmentation model, which a human annotator can modify through machine-assisted edit operations using a natural user interface. Our interface empowers annotators to choose what to correct and in which order, allowing them to effectively focus their efforts on what the machine does not already know.
|Visualization of the fluid annotation interface in action on image from COCO dataset. Image credit: gamene, original image.|
More precisely, to annotate an image we first run it through a pre-trained semantic segmentation model (Mask-RCNN). This generates around 1000 image segments with their class labels and confidence scores. The segments with the highest confidences are used to initialize the labeling which is presented to the annotator. Afterwards, the annotator can: (1) Change the label of an existing segment choosing from a shortlist generated by the machine. (2) Add a segment to cover a missing object. The machine identifies the most likely pre-generated segments, through which the annotator can scroll and select the best one. (3) Remove an existing segment. (4) Change the depth-order of overlapping segments. To get a better feeling for this interface, try out the demo (desktop only).
|Comparison of annotations using traditional manual labeling tools (middle column) and fluid annotation (right) on three COCO images. While object boundaries are often more accurate when using manual labeling tools, the biggest source of annotation differences is because human annotators often disagree on the exact object class. Image Credits: sneaka, original image (top), Dan Hurt, original image (middle), Melodie Mesiano, original image (bottom).|
Fluid Annotation is a first exploratory step towards making image annotation faster and easier. In future work we aim to improve the annotation of object boundaries, make the interface faster by including more machine intelligence, and finally extend the interface to handle previous unseen classes for which efficient data collection is needed the most.
This work was done in collaboration with Misha Andriluka. Special thanks to Christine Sugrue for creating the fluid annotation demo. We also thank Anna Ukhanova and Damien Henry for their valuable input.