A fresh face in people search, care of Sweden

Polar Rose

This isn’t new news, per se, but it’s still interesting to see that Riya 1.0 has some new competition (how’d’ya like that? Retroactive competition… heh!).

If you’ve been playing along, you’d know that Riya has moved towards general image search and away from exclusively focusing on cute-baby-face-image-indexing (I kid, I kid!). In fact, Munjal says it best:

As we announced in May we are heading in a different direction because users just didn’t want face recognition in their own photos as much as they wanted smarter web search. Starting next week and continuing for the next month or so we’ll post the gradual release of our new product that reluanches our efforts.

Contrary to Polar Rose founder Jan Erik Solem’s bombastic claim that their search engine … will be the first of its kind in the world, I am more optimistic about their approach of using a simple browser plugin to enable folks to casually point out faces in the images that they come across, effectively decentralizing the task and providing a much needed instant-incentive for folks who are specifically interested in this kind of information. I still wonder whether such efforts can ever really boil the web-wide ocean, but with similar efforts underway at Google, sooner or later, we are going to get to a better way to discover, explore and search rich media based on their content, not just where they were taken or when.

In the meantime, screenshots of the Polar Rose plugin are available for download.

Via Digg via Alex Hillman.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: Molly.com (YC W18), Uber, Google.

4 thoughts on “A fresh face in people search, care of Sweden”

  1. Hi,
    love this photo – very similar to one that we have in the family.
    Yeah, we’re all holding on and wondering what Google are doing at the moment too!

    All the best,

  2. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for your interest.

    We really don’t see ourselves competing with ‘Riya 1.0’, as we’re not trying to build ‘yet-another-Flickr-clone’ based around biometric face identification.
    That might be a bit rough on Riya who’ve done a good job in seeding the market for competitive offerings like ours. But face recognition (or the underlying computer vision) is not a product in itself; it’s a feature that might help improve the functionality of offerings like Flickr or images searches like Google’s.

    We’re obviously aware of Riya’s repurposing and wish them luck. However, we’re going after an area which I believe Munjal has publicly stated that they’re unable to do, namely face search on an Internet-wide basis.


    ps. We’ve btw never said Polar Rose was first of it’s kind, even though we believe that we will be doing novel things. The source seems to be a roghue press release sent by the Swedish research academy in relation with founder and CTO Jan Erik Solem’s PhD defense two weeks ago.

  3. Thanks for stopping by Nikolaj. For the record, I wouldn’t call Riya 1.0 a Flickr-clone… though they had photo uploads, their goal, as far as I understood it, was to make it possible to search your personal photos… and face-rec was one rather convenient way of doing so.

    As for searching the web’s images with computer vision… I’m eager to see if that’s possible. Present-day Riya relies on a system not unlike Amazon’s Turks for a lot of the identification work, so whether you rely on browser plugin users or a team in India to identify photos on the web, computer vision by itself still seems generations away from being as accurate as humans.

    In any case, hey, I’d *love* to have better image search and would love to give Polar Rose a try. I love the design and the logo, and if you have the same design aesthetic in the plugin, I’m sure I’ll be a happy user.

    Also, sorry about the misquote — was only going on what I could find in the tubes. 😉

  4. search engine and things related to it are always evolving, so its kind of hard to stick with the same plan as you always have to adapt to new rules. specially with google. any way thanks for the post.

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