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*December 19, 2006 *– Most of us have searched our name in the Images search section of Google, Yahoo Images, or MSN Images. If we are lucky (or famous), we find a picture of ourselves on the web. A Swedish technology company, Polar Rose AB, promises to outdo its competitors by offering facial recognition software to sort web photos by extracting 3D information from 2D images. The free Polar Rose public browser plug-in beta is scheduled for release in early 2007, according to the company website.
With 10 million photos uploaded everyday, according to the Polar Rose website, users are increasingly looking to streamline image sorting. The Polar Rose facial recognition, known as Bloom technology, is "an approach that radically improves the short-comings of existing face recognition approaches," states the company website.Most existing image searches, such as Google, are based on text alone.Polar Rose, however, will combine user-entered text with facial recognition algorithms centered on images.
The Polar Rose technology was developed by Dr. Jan Erik Solem, the company’s chief technical officer.Bloom technology works by interpreting a two-dimensional image and turning it into a "virtual 3D portrait" based on computer vision algorithms.Like its name, the Bloom algorithm is based on a flower-shaped mathematical curve.The resulting 3D portrait acts as a "faceprint," said Solem to Reuters in an article published today.Polar Rose stores the index of faceprints, rather than the actual photos, and uses those as guides for matching other photos.
"You can label photos by name, or find them by their faceprint signature," Solem told Reuters.
Users will soon be able to use the Bloom technology as a browser plug-in beta for Firefox and Internet Explorer that requires both user-entered keywords and Polar Rose processing. The plug-in detects online pictures, and the Polar Rose icon will appear on the shirt lapel of the portrait.Users can click on the rose icon to enter tags such as a name on the tool tip screen.
Bloom technology could have a variety of applications such as tagging news photos, sorting images by face for online sharers, or even for social networking on a dating website, according to the Polar Rose website.
Polar Rose plans to further apply the facial recognition Bloom technology to mobile devices and video searches, according to Reuters.
Interested users of Polar Rose can register for the upcoming beta tester at www.polarrose.com.