Bio-Inspired Video Enhancement for Small Moving Target Detection

Muhammad Uzair, Russell S.A. Brinkworth, Anthony Finn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Moving targets at a very large distance from a camera appear small and of low contrast. The low signal-to-noise-ratio and the presence of clutter in the background degrade the detection performance of conventional moving object detection techniques. To address these challenges, we propose temporal pre-processing of video frames using a biologically-inspired vision model. The bio-inspired model consists of multiple layers of processing analogous to the photoreceptor cells in the visual system of small insects. The adaptive filtering mechanism in the photoreceptor cells suppresses clutter and expands the possible range of input signal changes which improves the target background contrast. We perform experiments on real world video sequences of small moving targets captured with a high bit depth, high resolution and high frame-rate camera. Experimental results show that the biological vision based pre-processing leads to improved detection performance when used in conjunction with a variety of computer vision based moving object detection algorithms. The temporal bio-processing alone has improved the area under the receiver operating characteristic (AUROC) curve of the best performing algorithm by 75.4%. Our results suggest that the bio-inspired pre-processing has strong potential to become a key component of a practical small target detection system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1232-1244
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Image Processing
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • background modeling
  • bio-inspired signal processing
  • Small target detection


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