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What Stories Will Our Pictures Be Telling? Print
Monday, 11 June 2007 16:36

Face RecognitionMicrosoft, Google, and others are quietly adding sophisticated imaging features to their portfolios. Right now these technologies can help you with simple tasks like organizing your photos online with Riya. Or just for fun you can use MyHeritage to see which celebrities you most look like. In the near future though, I foresee that a new generation of search abilities will emerge.

Imagine what your grandparents might have thought about typing a few key words into a search engine and being directed to a site with in-depth information on any subject matter in the world. We tend to take the functionality and usefulness of search engines for granted. Think of the rapid advancements that have taken place in a not so distant past. Only 12 years ago, it was Deja News that originally archived and indexed Usenet to collect a wealth of newsgroup information and make it conveniently accessible for the user. MapQuest and others brought road and satellite mapping to the web. Today Google can help you find phone numbers, information within a website, images, videos, the lowest prices on products, or even the answer to simple mathematics and numeric conversations.

MyHeritage Celebrity Face Recognition CollageThis photo imaging idea may not sound like a big deal now, but very soon, I predict we're going to see some radical advancements in image searching. It was rumored Google was looking at Riya and Neven Vision, and on August 15th, 2006 Google purchased Neven Vision. Both Riya and Neven Vision have photo recognition technologies. Riya currently lets you upload an unlimited amount of photos that it can then use face recognition tag and organize the imagines based on the content of the image. Cool, huh? Another impressive one I ran across is MyHeritage. Besides other things they have an application on their site that will compare your photo to celebrities and give you your best match.

On May 28, 2007 a hidden feature was discovered that triggers different search results with Google. November 10, 2006 Microsoft Photosynth Tech Preview went live. Photosynth can take a large collection of photos of a place or an object, analyzes them for similarities, and then displays them in a reconstructed three-dimensional space.

Infotrends predicts 228 billion images being taken on camera phones by 2010. Many photos, especially from camera phones are openly posting on websites. A combination of Microsoft's Photosynth and Neven Vision's recognition technologies would allow a search engine to combine photos taken from different sources of an object or place to reconstruct 3d models. For example, a three dimensional walk-through of a museum could be constructed from single photos obtained from blogs and photo sites of individual users. And while all this sounds pretty great, should we be considering the negative implications? Well, the way I see it, as these technologies progress, the results could either be amazing or unpredictably scary.


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