Blown To Bits

The Camera App that Identifies your Subjects

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010 by Harry Lewis

I recently noticed that the latest digital cameras have a feature that not only tags people the camera can identify because you have tagged them before, but stops you to ask if you’d like to identify them if the camera notices that they keep turning up in your photos. Facial recognition is in the camera software. (Here is a Panasoic page describing this feature.)

That didn’t surprise me much, but somehow the Recognizr Android-phone app impresses me more. Point the camera at someone and the phone goes to the Web to identify the person and look up his or her profiles on Facebook and other social networks. Bingo, the phone reports back to you whatever the profiles disclose about them.

Nothing very complicated going on here, if you think about it, once you accept that facial recognition is a solved problem. The rest is just web search and retrieval. Underlying face recognition is by Polar Rose.

But think of it. Just miniaturize a bit more and we can all put these in our eyeglasses. Meet someone for the first time, and greet them by name. It will feel weird at first, but I suppose we will get used to it, in the same way that it no longer startles us to see pulled-together businesspeople striding confidently down the sidewalk talking to no one visible.

6 Responses to “The Camera App that Identifies your Subjects”

  1. Zak Stone Says:

    These features sound great until you try them — I remain unconvinced that face recognition in unconstrained photos is anywhere close to being “a solved problem”.

  2. William Gasarch Says:

    Reminds me of Caller-ID: People used to be surprised when I answered
    ”Hello INSERT-THEIR-NAME” but now its standard.

  3. Jeff Collier Says:

    I’d buy that. But I want the glasses with the heads up display…

  4. Harry Lewis Says:

    A student in my course notes that some people have a very specific cognitive impairment that makes it impossible for them to recognize faces, even of people they know well. For them it would be a boon! And while Zak is correct that face recognition certainly isn’t yet up to picking an entirely new face out from billions of possibilities, for apps like recognizing your friends (or getting the names of the students in your class right!) the technology must be almost there.

  5. Perry Newton Says:

    What amazed me the other day when I was helping a library patron send an image attachment in her email was that she was prompted for a Picasa update, clicked ok, and it began to categorize every picture in her computer based upon face recognition and created file folders for each she ‘tagged’ with a name and placed all the pictures containing that person into that folder – I was stunned.

  6. Harry Lewis Says:

    Perry — and did she roll her eyes skyward and say, “Thank you, Google!”? How helpful do we want our computers to be? She did click OK apparently …