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August 14, 2006

Gmail Pictures Used For Face Recognition?

Gmail allows you to add pictures for your contacts. If you upload a picture, Gmail will ask you to crop the picture, to separate the face of the person. So Gmail has a database of multiple images for a lot of persons.


This seems like a nice feature, but I think it's more than that. It's a very easy way to obtain a database of faces useful for face recognition. Algorithms for detecting and recognizing faces are good, but not good enough, and this is a great way for Google to improve their AI algorithms using the data obtained from its users.

Google was very close to acquire Riya, a face recognition service that has expanded into a visual search engine for people and objects. They didn't bought the company because they want to develop an in-house solution. This might be integrated into Picasa to automatically detect persons in your photos and organize them better (like MyHeritage does) and might be the foundation of a new kind of image search engine, that understands more from the pictures.

7 comments:

  1. This technology is really awesome, but I don't know if it is really useful...
    You will just try that on launch, and you'll forget it.

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  2. A much better way to obtain faces for use would be to buy facebook.com. Their tagging mechanism for pictures results in hundreds of pictures of someone from different angles and light intensities.

    I'm curious if having the database of faces would really help with facial recognition, however.

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  3. I think the cropping process is interesting. The faces are useful too, although there are many databases of faces (like AT&T).

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  4. I think they read your post, and carried through with it in record time. :)

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  5. Hmm.. who did this first? Riya, flickr and now google!

    I know that people in Riya have been working on this for a long time now. Don't they have a patent on this or something?

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  6. The folks at Riya recently launched Like.com - a visual search engine for look-alike celebrity accessories. I think this is a great way to get the public interested in visual search, and it will help Riya fine-tune their product even more with the amount of beta testing traffic I am sure they will attract!

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