Friday, 5 September 2008

Picasa Introduce Facial Recognition

In contrast to hype surrounding of the launch of Crome, Google’s new web browser, Picasa web album another of the Google family, very quietly launched an interesting technology of their own, this week.

The new Picasa technology, referred to as ‘name tagging’, takes some of the pain out of adding tags relating to the identity of individuals in your photographs. If you share photos on the internet, you’ll be used to adding tags (or keywords) to your images. Tags help you find your images within sets or collections on your site and allow search engines to catalogue them effectively.

One of the best things about the new name tagging technology is that it sits very comfortably with the old site, a new button has appeared giving you the option to add name tags. There is no need to reload images that you have already uploaded.

The name tagging process, automatically identifies what it thinks are faces within your images, it then asks you to put names those faces. Once you have named a person a couple of times, it will learn to identify that person for you and automatically tag them for you in future uploads.

To make tagging easier, Picasa automatically links to your gmail contacts and predicatively tries to fill names for you as you type. Another technology enhancement also allows “geo tagging” or adding geographical data to shots, by allowing you to drag and drop images to Google maps.
The application works best with higher resolution images and images that are taken from a similar angle to shots its already seen, and in some cases will ask you to confirm the identity of a person that it does not recognise.

Of course, you have the option to keep images private or to share them, but being a Google related technology, if you choose to share your images they will very quickly be picked up in Google searches, and if you are using the Google labs advanced search tools, the location will be picked up by the geographical filtering.

Picasa has been around for a while, but its always been overshadowed by yahoo’s flickr. Will this sort of advancement in technology be enough to tip the balance in Picasa favour.