2012 The Year of Face Recognition
Ever since seeing early demos of Augmented ID by Swedish company TAT which used the face recognition SDK by Polar Rose, it’s just been a matter of time before we have face recognition power in our smartphones. Polar Rose were acquired by Apple back in September 2010 which has led many to believe that the iPhone 5 will have face recognition capabilities, and I tend to agree that the next version of the iPhone will have some face recognition aspects. However while some bloggers feel that iPhone will use this technology as a security feature, i.e. unlocking the phone automatically when the use picks up the device, I think the technology will be used in a more subtle way.
My guess is that Apple will use the Polar Rose technology as a way to tag individuals in photos and possibly videos. As you take a picture using the iPhone camera each individual will be identified and tagged enabling you to search for all the pictures that containing the same individual or automatically upload the tagged photos to Facebook, (or wherever). I would be very surprised if the functionality is more sophisticated and incorporates live social media profiles of individuals in the camera view. I.e. while pointing the camera at an individual you see their recent tweets or Facebook updates. While there are companies building these solutions I think it’s a step to far to assume it will be such an integrated experience with the next iPhone. iPhone 6 however will give Apple developers enough time to experiment with the functionality and make face recognition a core part of the camera technology.
Since Polar Rose was acquired the face recognition SDK has been withdrawn for download, but fear not, particularly if you’re an Android developer. At Mobile World Congress this year I met up with a company called Viewdle who have taken up the mantel of face recognition on mobile devices. The demo I saw was a prototype that instantly recognised an individual when an Android device was pointed in their direction. Once the individual was recogniesd their social media profile include Facebook and recent tweets was displayed. It’s the first step to a future where you’ll be able to use your smartphone to point at individuals and see who they are and how to connect with them. There is privacy storm brewing there but that’s a story for another time. In the meantime however, if the finished Viewdle product is half as good as their marketing video we are in for a real treat.
If you can’t wait for the mobile solution, Viewdle have desktop version that will automatically tag photos on your PC and upload them to Facebook. You can download the app here: http://viewdle.com/products/desktop/index.html
Microsoft Face Recognition
Microsoft Research in Israel have also being working on face recognition and have recently released a short video showing some of their work. You can imagine this technology finding its way into their gaming platforms.
For those that missed the original ground breaking demo from TAT, here is the original demo based on Polar Roses SDK. This technology was acquired by Apple in September 2010.
Face recognition for mobile devices will no doubt be huge. The ability to automatically tag individuals in your photos and search for other pictures where they are featured will be just the start. In 2012 perhaps we’ll all be using our smartphones to see who is around us and what they are thinking.