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Roland Fleming

Network Coordinator
Otto-Behaghel-Str 10F
35394  Giessen
Visual Perception of the Physical Properties of Objects


Research in my lab focusses on how the brain visually estimates the physical and functional properties of objects in our surroundings.

When we look at things, we don't experience the world as a meaningless jumble of lines, colours or motions. Instead, whenever we open our eyes, we immediately gain access to a richly detailed world of meaningful visual sensations. We recognise objects; perceive what things are made of; identify risk and pleasures and can even work out how objects might respond to forces or actions. Based on how things look, we are able to make a remarkable range of subtle judgements about the physical properties of objects, such as whether food is fresh or stale or whether an object is stable or likely to topple over. Without touching an object, we can usually work out what it would feel like were we to reach out and touch it, based on the curves and contours of its shape and the way light plays across its surface. My research program aims to understand how the brain estimates the 3D shape of surfaces, and the material properties of objects such as elasticity, translucency or viscosity. In order to do this, we use a combination of computer graphics, image analysis techniques, neural modelling and psychophysical experiments.

    Selected Publications

    Muryy, A., Welchman, A.E. and Blake, A and R.W. Fleming (2013). Specular reflections and the estimation of shape from binocular disparity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(6): 2413-2418.

    Vergne, R., Barla, P., Fleming, R.W., X. Granier, (2012). Surface Flows for Image-Based Shading Design. ACM Transactions on Graphics (Proceedings of SIGGRAPH). 31(4), Article 94.

    Fleming, R. W., Holtmann-Rice, D. and H. H. Bülthoff (2011). Estimation of 3D shape from image orientations. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(51) 20438-20443.

    Doerschner, K. Fleming, R.W., Yilmaz, O., Schrater, P.R., Hartung, B. and Kersten, D. (2011). Visual Motion and the Perception of Surface Material. Current Biology, 21(23): 1-7.

    Kahn, E. A., Reinhard, E., Fleming, R. W. and Bülthoff, H. H. (2006). Image-Based Material Editing. ACM Transactions on Graphics (Proceedings of SIGGRAPH 06), 25(3), 654-663.

    Fleming, R. W., Torralba, A. and Adelson, E. H. (2004). Specular reflections and the perception of shape. Journal of Vision, 4(9), 798-820. 

    Supervised projects