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Javier Bonilla
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A previous post entitled Machine Learning on Desktop, iOS and Android with Tensorflow, Qt and Felgo explored how to integrate Tensorflow with Qt and Felgo by means of a particular example which integrated two Google pre-trained neural networks for image classification and object detection.

This post focuses on developing the same app but in this case using Tensorflow Lite. TensorFlow Lite is TensorFlow’s lightweight solution for mobile and embedded devices currently at technological preview state. TensorFlow Lite uses many techniques for achieving low latency for mobile apps, smaller and faster neural network models. Besides that, the compilation of Tensorflow Lite is easier and faster.

Have a look at our previous post since only the differences between that app and the one developed here are mentioned in this post. This means that all the code and explanations given there apply for this case.

Image Classification and Object Detection Example

The goal is to developed an app where the user can select one of two Google pre-trained neural network models. The following steps describe how to build such app.

Object detection with Tensorflow Lite on iOS and Android

Clone Repository

To clone this repository execute the following command, clone it recursively since the TensorFlow repository is inside it.

git clone --recursive

How to build TensorFlow Lite for Qt

We need to build TensorFlow Lite for our target platforms: iOS and Android. In this example, make is used to build TensorFlow Lite for iOS (and Linux), whereas bazel is used for Android. The shell commands in the following sections must be executed inside the main Tensorflow folder.

Building for Linux

Download Tensorflow Lite dependencies for make compilation and compile as follows.

make -f ./tensorflow/lite/tools/make/Makefile

Building for Android (on Linux)

First, we need to set our Android SDK and NDK paths in the WORKSPACE file located in the main Tensorflow folder. We just have to include the following configuration, setting the appropriate paths and api_level values. If you need further information about how to download and install NDK, have a look at our previous post. For further information about how to download and install Android SDK have a look at Android Studio website.

    name = "androidsdk",
    path = "/home/user/Android/sdk"

    name = "androidndk",
    path = "/home/user/Android/android-ndk-r14b",
    api_level = 21,

Then, execute the following command to compile Tensorflow for ARM instructions using bazel build system.

bazel build --cxxopt='--std=c++11' -c opt --config=android_arm

Building for iOS (on macOS)

Download Tensorflow Lite dependencies for make compilation and compile by executing the next scripts.


How to Use TensorFlow Lite in Your Qt Mobile App

The source code of this app is in a GitHub repository. This section highlights only the main differences with respect to the previous app version.

Link TensorFlow Lite in Your Project

The following code shows the lines added to our qmake project file in order to
include the TensorFlow Lite header files and link against TensorFlow Lite libraries
depending on the target platform.

# TensorFlow Lite - Global
TENSORFLOW_PATH = $$PWD/tensorflow/
TFLITE_MAKE_PATH = $$TENSORFLOW_PATH/tensorflow/lite/tools/make
               $$TFLITE_MAKE_PATH/downloads/ \
               $$TFLITE_MAKE_PATH/downloads/eigen \
               $$TFLITE_MAKE_PATH/downloads/gemmlowp \
               $$TFLITE_MAKE_PATH/downloads/neon_2_sse \
               $$TFLITE_MAKE_PATH/downloads/farmhash/src \

# TensorFlow Lite - Linux
linux:!android {
    INCLUDEPATH += -L$$TFLITE_MAKE_PATH/gen/linux_x86_64/obj
    LIBS += -L$$TFLITE_MAKE_PATH/gen/linux_x86_64/lib/ \
            -ltensorflow-lite -ldl

# TensorFlow Lite - Android - armv7a
android {
    QT += androidextras
    LIBS += -L$$TENSORFLOW_PATH/bazel-bin/tensorflow/lite \
            -L$$TENSORFLOW_PATH/bazel-bin/tensorflow/lite/c \
            -L$$TENSORFLOW_PATH/bazel-bin/tensorflow/lite/core/api \
            -L$$TENSORFLOW_PATH/bazel-bin/tensorflow/lite/kernels \
            -L$$TENSORFLOW_PATH/bazel-bin/tensorflow/lite/kernels/internal \
            -L$$TENSORFLOW_PATH/bazel-bin/external/androidndk \
            -L$$TENSORFLOW_PATH/bazel-bin/external/farmhash_archive \
            -L$$TENSORFLOW_PATH/bazel-bin/external/fft2d \
            -L$$TENSORFLOW_PATH/bazel-bin/external/flatbuffers \
            -lframework -larena_planner -lsimple_memory_arena -lutil -lapi \
            -lc_api_internal -lbuiltin_ops -lbuiltin_op_kernels -lkernel_util \
            -leigen_support -lgemm_support -laudio_utils -lkernel_utils \
            -ltensor_utils -lneon_tensor_utils -lquantization_util -llstm_eval \
            -lstring_util -lcpufeatures -lfarmhash -lfft2d -lflatbuffers

# TensorFlow Lite - iOS - Universal library
ios {
        LIBS += -L$$TFLITE_MAKE_PATH/gen/lib/ \
                -framework Accelerate \

Create the GUI with QML

The GUI is the same than for the Tensorflow app version. The only difference is that two Tensorflow Lite configuration features are added to the AppSettingsPage.

App Settings Page

An screenshot of this page on iOS is shown below. The two new features are: number of threads and Android Neural Networks API (NNAPI) support.

App settings page

Setting the number of threads establishes how many threads will Tensorflow Lite use for inference tasks. The maximum number of threads is limited in the app to the number of cores in the mobile device. The number of threads can be configured by means of a slider and its value is stored in the nThreads property.

    id: sThreads
    anchors.horizontalCenter: parent.horizontalCenter
    width: parent.width - 2*dp(15)
    from:  1
    to:    auxUtils.numberThreads()
    enabled: to>1
    live:  true
    snapMode: AppSlider.SnapAlways
    stepSize: 1
    value: nThreads
    onValueChanged: nThreads = value

The C++ numberThreads function returns the number of processors cores by means of the idealThreadCount function which queries the number of processor cores, both real and logical, in the system. This function returns 1 if the number of processor cores cannot be detected.

int AuxUtils::numberThreads()
    return QThread::idealThreadCount();

NNAPI is an Android C API designed for running computationally intensive operations for machine learning on mobile devices, and is available on devices running Android 8.1 (API level 27) or higher. A switch can be used to enable or disable the use of NNAPI. This switch is only enabled on Android and only takes effect if the version is equal or higher than 8.1. The switch Boolean value is stored in the acceleration property.

    anchors.verticalCenter: parent.verticalCenter
    id: sAcceleration
    enabled: Qt.platform.os === "android"
    checked: enabled ? acceleration : false
    onToggled: acceleration = checked

In main.qml, the nThreads and acceleration property values are read and stored in a Storage component (default values are provided for the first app run), which is a singleton type for reading and writing to SQLite databases. Those values are passed to VideoPage, then to objectsRecognitionFilter up to Tensorflow Lite.

C++ Tensorflow Lite Interface and Video Frame Filter

Two main tasks are programmed in C++.

  • Managing video frames.
  • Interfacing with TensorFlow Lite.

Video frames are managed in the same way that for the previous app version.

Interfacing with Tensorflow Lite

The TensorflowLite C++ class interfaces with the TensorFlow Lite library. This class is a wrapper. Have a look at the code for a detailed description of this class, also you can check the Tensorflow Lite C++ API documentation for further information.

Neural Network Models for Image Classification and Object Detection

Google provides a set of pre-trained neural network models to perform image classification and object detection tasks. The file extension for Tensorflow Lite neural network models is .tflite.

This example already includes MobileNet models: MobileNet V1 224 for image classification and SSD Mobilenet v1 Quantized 300 for object detection. MobileNet is a class of efficient neural network models for mobile and embedded vision applications.

To have an idea of the pre-trained neural networks performance on different platforms and devices, or to evaluate your own networks, have a look at Tensorflow Lite Performance.

Image Classification Models

Image classification models can be download from the Tensorflow Lite – List of Hosted Models. Our example code is designed for MobileNet neural networks. For example, download mobilenet_v1_1.0_224.tgz, uncompress it, and copy the mobilenet_v1_1.0_224.tflite file to our assets folder as image_classification.tflite. Labels for these models are already set in the image_classification_labels.txt file. Labels belong to ImageNet classes.

Object Detection Models

Currently, there are no official models listed on Tensorflow Lite – List of Hosted Models. Nevertheless, you can generate tflite models from quantized models in Tensorflow Model Zoo using the toco tool as described in Training and serving a realtime mobile object detector in 30 minutes with Cloud TPUs. You can also train your own custom models as described in the Tensorflow Lite Developer Guide. In this example the SSD Mobilenet v1 Quantized coco model from Tensorflow Model Zoo has been converted to .tflite using the toco tool.

Any SSD MobileNet model can be used in the given example. This kind of models provides caption, confidence and bounding box outputs for each detected object. The .tflite file must be named as object_detection.tflite in our assets folder. Labels for this kind of models are already given by the object_detection_labels.txt file. Labels belong to COCO labels.

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1 year ago

Could you please share your bazel build
Felgo can’t find the libraries

Angad Kundra
Angad Kundra
1 year ago

Qt creator looks for these libraries in android-ndk while building

-lframework -larena_planner -lsimple_memory_arena -lutil -lapi \
-lc_api_internal -lbuiltin_ops -lbuiltin_op_kernels -lkernel_util \
-leigen_support -lgemm_support -laudio_utils -lkernel_utils \
-ltensor_utils -lneon_tensor_utils -lquantization_util -llstm_eval \
-lstring_util -lcpufeatures -lfarmhash -lfft2d -lflatbuffers

And is not able to find them.

Could you specify the Android ndk version and tensor flow version used in the implementation?

I was able to successfully build tensor flow lite using bazel build on Android ndk 19c.
Got errors on using Android ndk 14b or below.

1 year ago
Reply to  Javier Bonilla

Hi Javier,
I was able to build and deploy for iOS without any issues. I am facing the same issue as mentioned by Angad despite removing libraries that are not needed, I also noticed that I am not having tensorflow-lite.a under /tensorflow/bazel-bin/tensorflow/lite.

After running the bazel build command for android I get the following
Found 1 target…
Target //tensorflow/lite/java:libtensorflowlite_jni up-to-date:

I only have file and not tensorflow-lite.a . Did I miss any step?

Thank you.

1 year ago
Reply to  Javier Bonilla

Hi Javier, Thank you for replying. I faced some linker issues. I tried to clone the repo it gave me an issue with incorrect commit on the submodule. I created an issue in the repo for your reference. Meanwhile, I did a fresh clone of tensorflow from github to the project and checked out on branch r.18 based on your previous comment. I was able to build tensorflow for android using bazel build command. However, I am still having some issues linking to the android project in Qt creator. I am using Qt 5.13.1 version. Can you confirm which… Read more »