Video tracking is the process of locating a moving object (or multiple objects) over time using a camera. It has a variety of uses, some of which are: human-computer interaction, security and surveillance, video communication and compression, augmented reality, traffic control, medical imaging, and video editing. Video tracking can be a time-consuming process due to the amount of data that is contained in the video. Adding further to the complexity is the possible need to use object recognition techniques for tracking, a challenging problem in its own right.
The objective of video tracking is to associate target objects in consecutive video frames. The association can be especially difficult when the objects are moving fast relative to the frame rate. Another situation that increases the complexity of the problem is when the tracked object changes orientation over time. For these situations, video tracking systems usually employ a motion model which describes how the image of the target might change for different possible motions of the object.
Examples of simple motion models are:
To perform video tracking an algorithm analyzes sequential video frames and outputs the movement of targets between the frames. There are a variety of algorithms, each having strengths and weaknesses. Considering the intended use is important when choosing which algorithm to use. There are two major components of a visual tracking system: target representation and localization, as well as filtering and data association.
Target representation and localization is mostly a bottom-up process. These methods give a variety of tools for identifying the moving object. Locating and tracking the target object successfully is dependent on the algorithm. For example, using blob tracking is useful for identifying human movement because a person's profile changes dynamically. Typically the computational complexity for these algorithms is low. The following are some common target representation and localization algorithms:
Filtering and data association is mostly a top-down process, which involves incorporating prior information about the scene or object, dealing with object dynamics, and evaluation of different hypotheses. These methods allow the tracking of complex objects along with more complex object interaction like tracking objects moving behind obstructions. Additionally the complexity is increased if the video tracker (also named TV tracker or target tracker) is not mounted on rigid foundation (on-shore) but on a moving ship (off-shore), where typically an inertial measurement system is used to pre-stabilize the video tracker to reduce the required dynamics and bandwidth of the camera system. The computational complexity for these algorithms is usually much higher. The following are some common filtering algorithms: