Multimedia Tools and Applications

, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 1179–1199 | Cite as

Detecting and tracking dim small targets in infrared image sequences under complex backgrounds

  • Ying LiEmail author
  • Shi Liang
  • Bendu Bai
  • David Feng


This paper presents a unified framework for automatically detecting and tracking dim small targets in infrared (IR) image sequence under complex backgrounds. Firstly, the variance weighted information entropy (variance WIE) followed by a region growing technique is introduced to segment the candidate targets in a single-frame IR image after background suppression. Then the pipeline filter is used to verify the real targets. The position and the size of the detected target are then obtained to initialize the tracking algorithm. Secondly, we adopt an improved local binary pattern (LBP) scheme to represent the target texture feature and propose a joint gray-texture histogram method for a more distinctive and effective target representation. Finally, target tracking is accomplished by using the mean shift algorithm. Experimental results indicate that the proposed method can effectively detect the dim small targets under complex backgrounds and has better tracking performance compared with the gray histogram based tracking methods such as the mean shift and the particle filtering.


Dim small target detection and tracking Variance weighted information entropy (variance WIE) Local binary pattern (LBP) Mean shift 



We are very grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions that help improve the quality of this manuscript. We also appreciate the providers of the test sequences. This works was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 60873086), and the Aeronautics Science Foundation of China (No. 2011ZD53049).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computer ScienceNorthwestern Polytechnical UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.School of Telecommunication and Information EngineeringXi’an University of Posts and TelecommunicationsXi’anChina
  3. 3.School of Information Technology, J11University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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