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Facial Recognition Software Showdown

Facial Recognition Software Showdown
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The 5 biggest players in face-tagging photo software: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Cyberlink and Face.com. Can these tools change how you look at photos?

The 5 biggest players in face-tagging photo software: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Cyberlink and Face.com. Can these tools change how you look at photos?

It’s funny how our assumptions can get in the way of a good product. When I agreed to take on an overview of today’s facial recognition and tagging applications, I assumed it would be a lot like the facial recognition biometric systems I’d used in years past. You pose, click, pose, click, the software analyzes the pieces of your face into this and that mathematical relationship, and the next time you show up it simply knows who you are. Easy!


So, I assumed that facial recognition and tagging software—let’s just call it face tagging to keep things simple—would be equally easy. I’d have a handful of photos to show the software, tell the system that this and this and this are my kid, and voila! The app would do its little song and dance through my album and report back with all photos of my kid with his face already tagged in each photo. Since like most people I have about 42 million family photos, this could save a lot of time.

Yet that’s not quite how things worked. Having now spent far more hours doing face tagging than I ever imagined possible, I can say that this new application type can be immensely useful, but it’s no cake walk. You’re still going to log in a lot of time during the tagging process. The question is how much time. That’s what we’re here to find out.

Each of the five software titles discussed here is relatively new--each was launched in the last four months, and a few in the last two weeks--so the time is right for a fierce head-to-head competition between the most well-known photo tagging software brands out there.

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  • -3 Hide
    liemfukliang , October 6, 2009 3:29 AM
    Please update more on:
    1. let just say I have spend weekly time on a low end pc to get 33 GB photo with so many file. How do I save this tag when I am reinstall windows?
    2. About the portabilty in no 1. Picasa has picasa.ini in every folder, but when it corrupt, the picasa.ini is not helpful recovering the weekly time spent.
    3. Speed? Why there is no benchmark graph like usual?
    4. Try gradiation photos or something similiar. It will see about the acuration.
    5. I want to get the best speed, what is the most needed hardware. If Processor will I7 better than C2D? If GPU, will Geforce GTX 295 better than 9800?

    I have private paint experience using picasa. I have taging many face in a week of Sempron 2800+ OC to 2 Ghz. When the face recognation is done, for what ever reason, my cpu is dead (dead power electricity). When the electricity power is up, my pc is on windows. The picasa is corrupt. My one week OC is for nothing. DAMN :( (.
  • 0 Hide
    deadlockedworld , October 6, 2009 7:23 AM
    I recently tagged all my photos with Picasa. I think i personally tagged more than the software did--the software is VERY cautious. It also repeatedly asked to tag posters, even paintings that were on my walls. Finally, it doesn't do well with babies--which is no surprise because they all look the same to me too :-)

    Its cool, but im not sure the outcome was worth sitting there tagging hundreds of pictures of ex-girlfriends.
  • 0 Hide
    testerie , October 6, 2009 9:37 AM
    I am giving comment for testing.
  • 0 Hide
    Tomsguiderachel , October 6, 2009 4:41 PM
    Deadlockedworld--you don't have to tag everyone in every album in Picasa--just don't tag albums that have your exes in them. I definitely don't tag everyone in my photos--only those people that are important to me.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 6, 2009 6:48 PM
    Adobe's Photoshop Elements 7 has the ability to detect faces but not automatically match them. It did make tagging much quicker. I could select 40 pictures from a party and tag the lot all at once.

    However, I found that there were several pictures that it didn't catch. So, I ended up having to go through the whole bunch manually anyway to catch the stragglers. I found I spent as much time, if not more, making sure I got everything. So, I'm not sure that the "helpful tool" actually did much.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 7, 2009 9:29 AM
    I am using iPhoto '09 and I found that the predictive tagging is getting less and less accurate as the database of tagged faces increases. Impression confirmed by one of my friends using the same app. For example, my wife is probably the most frequent face in my collection and the software has a hard time identifying her. On the other hand, I tagged the face of a friend I see rarely and I was welcomed with 4-5 good matches.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 17, 2012 10:57 PM
    I have about 30,000 photos in Pacasa and over 200 logged in faces. It does a reasonable job and seems less cautious as it identifies the same face - I have hundreds of the same people in some cases. It has also been able to ID an adult all the way back to 4 or 5 years old. Now, I want to use Picasa to find crooks who post on FB, etc., but have their mug shots on law enforcement websites. Not sure how to link the known bad guys with their unknown shots ( surveillance shots, etc.), but its doable.
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