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Bridging the Gap between Object Detection and User Intent via Query-Modulation

Chaochao Yan
Liangchen Luo
Kimberly Wilber
Alex Stark
Yin Cui
Andrew Howard
arXiv (2021)


When interacting with objects through cameras, or pictures, users often have a specific intent. For example, they may want to perform a visual search. With most object detection models relying on image pixels as their sole input, undesired results are not uncommon. Most typically: lack of a high-confidence detection on the object of interest, or detection with a wrong class label. The issue is especially severe when operating capacity-constrained mobile object detectors on-device. In this paper we investigate techniques to modulate mobile detectors to explicitly account for the user intent, expressed as an embedding of a simple query. Compared to standard detectors, query-modulated detectors show superior performance at detecting objects for a given user query. Thanks to large-scale training data synthesized from standard object detection annotations, query-modulated detectors also outperform a specialized referring expression recognition system. Query-modulated detectors can also be trained to simultaneously solve for both localizing a user query and standard detection, even outperforming standard mobile detectors at the canonical COCO task.