Web photo searches

December 19, 2006

CNN has a story about the the development of new software by a start-up company called Polar Rose. Basically, the software uses pattern recognition technology to find photographs that contain similar faces. The product may be used to find photographs of people within one’s own computer files, or to find photographs of people online with similar features. In the near future, Polar Rose will expand its pattern recognition capabilities, allowing people to find other objects in still photographs. Eventually, Polar Rose will launch a system to search video files.

Although Polar Rose offers a promising product, potential privacy concerns might make the product seem less attractive. Still, the founders of Polar Rose hope that people will use it as a “fun” tool to find publicly-available photos on the Web, as well as personal photos stored on one’s own computer. They also plan not to sell the information to agencies involved in surveillance.

I have wondered if such a tool would become available for public use. If enough people learn about it, Polar Rose could offer a potential goldmine for those interested in finding images that share similarities. The prospects for video also sound quite interesting. (Naturally, with my wife’s interest in similar kinds of searches, I have already notified her of this story.)

As a side note, I stumbled upon something similar in a genealogy website called MyHeritage. It has a face recognition feature that matches your face (or those of people you know) with those of celebrities. I tried it over the weekend, and I found the results most interesting. However, you do need to register, and you need to click through an offer to get started (In my case, it was for a college loan consolidation. Just click “no thanks,” or whatever it says, and you can get started.)

Admittedly, results can depend on various factors within the photo (light, shadow, etc.). In most cases, you get between 5-10 matches per search. Although some celebrity face matches may occur in only one search, others appear in multiple searches. In my case, the most consistent results included Steven Spielberg, Johnny Depp (?), and Nick Brendon (a big name for Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans, I suppose). My wife got a few consistent matches as well, including Meryl Streep, Renee Zellweger, and Julia Stiles. I was surprised at the matches for me, especially Johnny Depp (it was probably the glasses and the appearance of five o’clock shadow). I have been told by a few people that I look like the bespectacled Edward Herrmann (at least when he played FDR), but he never appeared once in any of my searches. Either the software needs some work, or I haven’t found the right images to get such a match.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: