Summary: Proceedings of the. SPIE Vol. 4299, pp. 1-12, Human Vision and Electronic Imaging VI, B. E. Rogowitz; T. N. Pappas; Eds. (2001)
On Seeing Stuff: The Perception of Materials by Humans and
Edward H. Adelson
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, NE20-444H, Cambridge MA 02139
The perception of objects is a well-developed field, but the perception of materials has been studied rather
little. This is surprising given how important materials are for humans, and how important they must
become for intelligent robots. We may learn something by looking at other fields in which material
appearance is recognized as important. Classical artists were highly skilled at generating convincing
materials. The simulation of material appearance is a topic of great importance in 3-D computer graphics.
Some fields, such as mineralogy, use the concept of a habit, which is a combination of shape and
texture, and which may be used for characterizing certain objects or materials. We have recently taken steps
toward material recognition by machines, using techniques derived from the domain of texture analysis.
Keywords: Perception, materials, reflectance, BRDF.
INTRODUCTION: THINGS AND STUFF
Ask someone what vision is for and you may get an answer about recognizing objects. Few people will
tell you that vision is about recognizing materials. Yet materials are just as important as objects are. Our
world involves steel and glass, paper and plastic, food and drink, leather and lace, ice and snow, not to