The present system and apparatus uses image processing to recognize objects within a scene. The system includes an illumination source for illuminating the scene. By controlling the illumination source, an image processing system can take a first digitize image of the scene with the object illuminated a higher level and a second digitized image with the object illuminated at a lower level. Using an algorithm, the object(s) image is segmented from a background image of the scene by a comparison of the two digitized images taken. A processed image (that can be used to characterize features) of the object(s) is then compared to stored reference images. The object is recognized when a match occurs. The system can recognize objects independent of size and number and can be trained to recognize objects that is was not originally programmed to recognize.