Not too long ago, I started looking at a business opportunity writing software that would use facial recognition and scan every digital photo on your computer, automatically updating each picture’s metadata with recognized faces (I had also consider a fecal recognition program, but had a hard time finding funding).
My basic thought process was you’d start the application, it would scan wherever you told it for all image files, look at each file and see if it contained any number of faces, compare the faces to those already stored in a database and if a match was found, update the metadata or otherwise mark the face as needing identification. Over time, new photos would automatically be tagged properly. I currently do this manually with all my pictures so that my wife can use Picasa and search for “Georgia + Irelyn” and get ever photo with both the girls in them. Automating that process would save me countless hours.
The pitfall for me? I could have written everything needed to find, scan, tag, and store all the data needed. But I simply do not have the mathematical ability to write the code needed to do facial recognition. I had attempted to get some API’s from a company who does high end security systems with F.R. (they were the company that was behind the superbowl camera brouhaha a few years ago), but it was $5,000 for a development license, and you people don’t hit my tip jar enough to do that ;)
So I see today there is a company preparing to make my dream a reality, and I about peed my pants.
It’s called Riya, and it has the potential to revolutionize the way we organize photographs. You upload your photos, Riya processes them for both faces and text, and sends back the data (which then updates your photos). And this is the part where I think Satan is gleefully rubbing his hands together.
I love my daughters. I literally have thousands of pictures and would love nothing more than to automate which picture contains whom. But uploading the pictures to some company gives me the jitters. While the current owners might think they’d never allow their technology to be abused, companies have a tendency to get purchased and their scruples tossed. Remember when Sam Walton swore that Wal-Mart would only purchase American made products? See how long that lasted after he died?
So, pluses and minuses for the idea. I’ve requested an alpha account, but I’m still wary of the possibilities for abuse.