Facing the algorithm: Other portraits on which the Xerox system passed judgment include the high-quality ones on the left and the low-quality ones on the right.
The technique builds on a larger body of research, conducted at Xerox and many other labs, that strives to improve image recognition by breaking down photos into what researchers call a visual vocabulary—corners and edges that might define buildings, round shapes that might be wheels, regions of green that might indicate landscapes, and many more such elements (and combinations thereof). The resulting technologies build up knowledge about what pieces correspond to certain types of images by examining Internet-based photos that are already tagged with text identifying what’s in them.
Many research groups, including the one at Xerox, are working on improving not only the accuracy of these methods but also their computational efficiency. For example, Xerox announced recently that it has developed a system capable of finding images that have similar characteristics. It can sort through five million images in less than a second.
Xerox plans to launch this tool next year as a cloud-based service that could be used to refine searches in large image repositories like stock photo agencies. The company also released a related Facebook app, called Catepix, that examines your Facebook photos, categorizes them (portrait, landscape, etc.), and tells you what they say about your personality.
Unfortunately, I have posted only three pictures on Facebook, so the app failed to tell me much of anything. But it did put up a post under my name declaring that I was a portrait kind of guy.