Google, Image Recognition & Search

The Midnight Epiphany That Changed From An Over-Hyped Failure To A $100 Million Acquisition (Fast Company)

On April 25th, 2006, just after midnight, Shah was looking at Riya’s stats when he noticed that for every person uploading personal pictures and tagging them, 20 others were using Riya for search. He immediately emailed one of his cofounders, Gokturk, who replied within five minutes. “I wonder what they are searching for?” Gokturk wrote back. “Why are they using our site instead of Google or Yahoo Images?”

Read the whole thing, then see: Biometrics, object recognition and searchinspired by an earlier Google acquisition.
Key paragraph:

With this acquisition, I suspect Google doesn’t so much have facial recognition for identity search as they have object recognition in mind. First, Google has been wary of face recognition in public search. Whether this is due to the technical challenges of an unbound face rec application or a respect for the privacy of their users, I’ll leave it to the reader to judge. It is also a much different challenge to return the result “This is a human face” than it is to say “This is a human face and that face belongs to Guy Herbert.” In most object search the first type of result will be the most desirable anyway. If you submit a photo of an insect to a search, you aren’t asking about the insect’s individual identity, you probably just want to know what type of insect it is.”

The current case, well documented by Fast Company, seems to bear that out.

Bikini Detection algorithm raises the stakes in social media

Add bikinis to the list of objects recognizable by computer algorithms.

IPhone app that finds racy Facebook photos raises privacy worries (Los Angeles Times)

“This is a very touchy subject, of course,” Barto said. “Anything that’s readily available on Facebook, that’s what we can search. Those privacy tools on Facebook should be used to control the content that you want to be private.”

The app works in a similar way to the facial-recognition technology found in video chat programs and Facebook’s tag prompts. But instead of identifying faces, Badabing identifies the shape of a bikini. That means in addition to beach photos, the app may return pictures of a T-shirt with the outline of a swimsuit.

Object recognition is really starting to take off.

Related: Biometrics, object recognition and search

FBI Wants a Tattoo Interpretation System

What Does Your Tattoo Say About You? The FBI Wants to Know. (Nextgov)

The FBI is consulting local police and vendors about technology currently in use that can spot crooks and terrorists by interpreting the symbolism of their tattoos, according to government documents. The inquiry follows work already underway at the bureau and Homeland Security Department to add iris and facial recognition services to their respective fingerprint databases.

The FBI on Friday issued a request for information on existing databases “containing tattoo/symbol images, their possible meanings, gang affiliations, terrorist groups or other criminal organizations.”

What is described is more of a pattern recognition system but it is related to biometrics.

See: Biometrics, object recognition and search