User-Steered Image Segmentation Paradigms: Live Wire and Live Lane
In multidimensional image analysis, there are, and will continue to be, situations wherein automatic image segmentation methods fail, calling for considerable user assistance in the process. The main goals of segmentation research for such situations ought to be (i) to provideeffective controlto the user on the segmentation processwhileit is being executed, and (ii) to minimize the total user's time required in the process. With these goals in mind, we present in this paper two paradigms, referred to aslive wireandlive lane, for practical image segmentation in large applications. For both approaches, we think of the pixel vertices and oriented edges as forming a graph, assign a set of features to each oriented edge to characterize its “boundariness,” and transform feature values to costs. We provide training facilities and automatic optimal feature and transform selection methods so that these assignments can be made with consistent effectiveness in any application. In live wire, the user first selects an initial point on the boundary. For any subsequent point indicated by the cursor, an optimal path from the initial point to the current point is found and displayed in real time. The user thus has a live wire on hand which is moved by moving the cursor. If the cursor goes close to the boundary, the live wire snaps onto the boundary. At this point, if the live wire describes the boundary appropriately, the user deposits the cursor which now becomes the new starting point and the process continues. A few points (live-wire segments) are usually adequate to segment the whole 2D boundary. In live lane, the user selects only the initial point. Subsequent points are selected automatically as the cursor is moved within a lane surrounding the boundary whose width changes as a function of the speed and acceleration of cursor motion. Live-wire segments are generated and displayed in real time between successive points. The users get the feeling that the curve snaps onto the boundary as and while they roughly mark in the vicinity of the boundary. We describe formal evaluation studies to compare the utility of the new methods with that of manual tracing based on speed and repeatability of tracing and on data taken from a large ongoing application. The studies indicate that the new methods are statistically significantly more repeatable and 1.5–2.5 times faster than manual tracing.