In today’s Facebook world, tagging faces/people in photos is nothing extraordinary. But what about videos? That, is seems, is Google’s territory. Google has recently acquired a patent for identifying persons in video content, a patent that can potentially give the search giant an ace in the hole in the arena of face detection.
The technology patented by Google includes the generation and selection of tracks which can identify faces in videos and then use the generated tracks to prepare clusters of face tracks to make up a face model database which could then be used to identify face models from video files. Put in laymen terms, Google has patented creating a database of face models and using that database to automatically identify faces in videos. This is not to say Google can identify which face belongs to whom; that would require Google to create a database of face profiles which I’m sure would hit legal and ethical hurdles. Rather, this is to say Google can identify that an object in a video is a face.
The technology will obviously help in identifying faces in videos, particularly at different exposures and lighting. One of the main features the technology will serve is the ability to tag faces in videos on the Youtube, just like tagging faces in pictures. The feature might also be used to alert users about any videos that feature them but this would require Google to keep face profiles of individual users which may or may not fly. One place this will definitely be applied is Google Plus, which would give Google Plus an edge over Facebook when it comes to videos. Project Glasses is another contender, which could take life to the next level.
Just like with any other thing which is good, this also comes with negative possibility such as the risk that this technology might be used for personally tracking people. Or Google could use this patent to subdue innovation. It will be interesting to see if Google stretches this patent to face recognizing features of cameras on smartphones; if Google somehow attempts to sue Apple with this patent.
An interesting fact about the patent is that it had been applied for by Google on July 14, 2008, which is almost four years back. So its quite clear that Google has practical plans for this and have been working on the project from quite some time now.