Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Adventures in facial recognition technology

The newest version of Apple's photo management software, iPhoto, includes an exiting new addition -- it has the ability to recognize people's faces. This is excellent. Until now, I have been tagging every photograph manually: if it included a picture of Britt, I added "Britt" as a keyword. Now, I can sit back and let the program do much of the heavy lifting.

The facial recognition technology in iPhoto is pretty good. Here, the program has correctly identified cousins Eric and Howie:


The most common mistake I run into is people being confused for their brother or sister. Here, iPhoto thinks my father is my Uncle Fred:


Some iPhoto mistakes are harder to understand. Here, iPhoto thinks my father looks like Steve Souza. While the Simanoffs and the Souzas have been best of friends for more than 20 years, the two familes are not related -- unless my parents are hiding something!


And, here, iPhoto thinks this older guy with gray hair and a receding hairline is Shawn Woodford, a coworker's husband. Shawn looks nothing like this. He is much younger and has reddish-blond hair, which he pulls back into a ponytail. (I should also mention that I have no idea who these people are. They are in the periphery of a photograph that I took.)


iPhoto is obsessed with Melinda Jenzarli, the new wife of one of Britt's oldest friends in Tampa. I took a photo of this random dance troupe in Dam Square in Amsterdam about five years ago (think Sparkle Motion from "Donnie Darko"), and now iPhoto believes Melinda is one of the members).


iPhoto also found Melinda in a crowded street in -- oh, I don't know. This could have been Paris or Brussels or Istanbul.


iPhoto will also recognize faces of inanimate objects. Only one of these creepy heads is human:

In Prague, I took this photo of a shop selling nesting dolls. iPhoto thinks the shelves are lined with humans:


iPhoto will sometimes mistake a wheel for a face:

In this photo, taken on Chicago's Magnificent Mile, Britt (real) and Bob Newhart (in statue form) are ignored -- but the minivan wheel is recognized as a face:


Finally, iPhoto can recognize faces from '80s TV shows, provided those faces are wrapped around delicious candy bars.



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