It was with great excitement that I attended the Innovator’s Summit on the first day of RootsTech 2014. I have seen enough of what our techie friends can do to know that there would be some fun new develops to get excited about. It’s one of the highlights of RootsTech.
This year there were 3 finalists vying for winner status in the competition for the most innovative technology. There were some great ideas that were all considered for this completion. But I have to say that out of all the technology ideas that were presented, the facial recognition technology of Photo Face Match was what was most intriguing for me.
The idea of facial recognition is not new. It has been the subject of dozens of futuristic action movies and novels. The idea is exciting, but it’s always been technology itself that has stopped us from having such a power tool. Well, it looks like it might be at our doorstep.
PhotoFaceMatch is one of the companies that was in this year’s competition for winning the RootsTech Developer’s Challenge. I am not on the committee to choose the winner of this challenge so I am free to voice how I feel about this technology. PhotoFaceMatch is being developed by Charley Smart & Steve Miller of Eclipse Identity Recognition Corporation. They use facial recognition technology to analyze a collection of digital images to automatically detect common features of everyone in the images.
PhotoFaceMatch allows users to select one or more photographs of a known individual and compare them with others to determine the likelihood that the two are the same person. This can be used as a tool to help identify unknown individuals. Perhaps most notable to genealogists is recognizing the same person at various ages.
I have seen websites online sites that have thousands of photographs without names or any other important identifying information. Their intent is to help find someone who might recognize a photograph and legitimately claim them as one of their own ancestors. How great would that be! I have in my own private photo collection dozens of old pictures from the 1800s who stare back at me with nameless faces. I have no idea who they are but would love out who they are.
Of course, there is still a lot of work that needs to go into making this kind of technology work. But I hope that it develops quickly. Imagine what a valuable tool this would be for genealogists and family historians. For myself, I want to know who those nameless faces are in my photograph collection are.