Calculated Guesses

The newest version of iPhoto is pretty impressive. In addition to cataloging our whole library - that's about 33,000 photos and counting, plus another 4,000 or so movies - and letting us quickly flip through six years of images, it uses face recognition software to group your shots by who's in them.

Of course, you have to teach it what your friends and family look like at first, with a couple of rounds of labeling folks the old fashioned way, but after that the program really seems to get the hang of it. After just a few minutes it can identify your loved ones much faster than even you could (...if not quite as reliably).

I mean, think about how long it would take to go through thirty-freakin'-three thousand images, looking for, say, one of your awesome uncle Mark. This way you just find a couple, tag 'em as such, and ta-da: dozens more potential pictures for you to either confirm or reject. And most of those results will feature the sunny grin, the curly hair, the distinctive mustache that mark Mark. A few may be off, but that's part of the fun.

It's getting pretty good at spotting Penelope.
Part of that may be because it has 2,037 confirmed Lope-pics and counting, but still -- wearing sunglasses, reflected in a mirror, through a car window, sipping a mocha latte, making funny faces, out of focus, in the dark, whatever -- it always seems to guess that it's Penny.

On me it's a little less certain. Maybe it's just that I have less distinctive features than she does, or perhaps that I'm not in as many pictures to begin with, but iPhoto continues to mistake me for some pretty unlikely candidates.

For instance, I have a hard time seeing how I resemble an elderly Asian man. Or former president Bush. Or a truck tire. But algorithms don't lie, I guess, so on some level I apparently do look somewhat like Tony Dungy. Aside from his Super Bowl ring, among other traits.


I have to give credit for one thing, though: By round 3 of identifying Veda, iPhoto mainly mistook her for just two people -- me and Penny. Which stands to reason. I'm kind of surprised it can I.D. babies at all.

So if you think I've got some photos of you in my library, rest assured that I'll soon find them all. And I can chart your hairstyles over the years at the click of a button.

Or even, with no personal offense intended, compare you to a truck tire.

Computer says it, so it's got to be true.


Rene said...

That is my little Chastity though

Colin said...

Of course! I couldn't figure it out at first, because I didn't meet her until she was a little older.

Thanks for confirming.

Hello, I'm Ryan Noel. said...

I was hoping you'd follow up your tweet about face recognition with a blog entry. You didn't disappoint.

I'm most amazed that it IDs Lope so easily, because I'm not sure I've seen more than one or two pics of Penny with a straight face.