Visual Saliency Estimation By Nonlinearly Integrating Features Using Region Covariances
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To detect visually salient elements of complex natural scenes, computational bottom-up saliency models commonly examine several feature channels such as color and orientation in parallel. They compute a separate feature map for each channel and then linearly combine these maps to produce a master saliency map. However, only a few studies have investigated how different feature dimensions contribute to the overall visual saliency. We address this integration issue and propose to use covariance matrices of simple image features (known as region covariance descriptors in the computer vision community; Tuzel, Porikli, & Meer, 2006) as meta-features for saliency estimation. As low-dimensional representations of image patches, region covariances capture local image structures better than standard linear filters, but more importantly, they naturally provide nonlinear integration of different features by modeling their correlations. We also show that first-order statistics of features could be easily incorporated to the proposed approach to improve the performance. Our experimental evaluation on several benchmark data sets demonstrate that the proposed approach outperforms the state-of-art models on various tasks including prediction of human eye fixations, salient object detection, and image-retargeting.