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 search, inspired by an earlier Google acquisition.
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.