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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.


  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.

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

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

  4. 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?

  5. The folks at Riya recently launched - 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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