GCN Insider: Rising up from Phoenix

This GCN editor is normally skeptical whether gee-whiz technologies that come out of the semi-annual DEMO Conferences will ever have much impact on enterprises (though, admittedly, Palm and some others got their starts there). Some seem half-baked; others seem wholly focused on making money or buddies online.

At last month's DEMO in Phoenix, an underlying theme was how consumer technologies were affecting the way enterprises compute. Not sure if that's entirely true, but there was at least one new consumer technology that may have interested the In-Q-Tel reps who were reportedly trolling for ideas, as well as anyone in government who handles volumes of digital images.

Riya is an online photo search service from Ojos Inc. of Redwood City, Calif. CEO Munjal Shah said the idea sprang from the thousands of cryptically named files he produced with his digital camera. The service uses facial recognition technology to metatag digital images for easy search and grouping.

With training, it learns to recognize all the pictures of 'Surveillance Subject #1,' for instance. And it also includes text recognition. Shah showed the software picking out words from highway signs and other backdrops. Was 'Surveillance Subject #1' ever in Des Moines, Iowa? The software could theoretically find a photo of him holding the Des Moines Register under his arm.

'Theoretically' because the product is still in pre-beta. Even Shah says, 'Riya is not perfect.' It will inevitably misrecognize some people and need correction. And it currently needs to resize large photos to 800-by-600-pixel resolution. Still, the technology is impressive and could have significant application beyond online photo sharing. There have been rumors a company like Google might snap up the technology. But there are probably several parties interested in Riya.


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