Pinpointing pictures

Swedish company Polar Rose will soon be introducing a Web-based search engine that can find photographs of people by analysing pictures and identifying faces. The search engine, which Polar Rose claims will be the first of its kind in the world, is the result of research carried out by Solem at the Technology and Society department at MalmöUniversityCollege.

Solem is part of a research team in applied mathematics working with image analysis and computer vision. In his dissertation he shows how computers can be made, through mathematical processes, to create 3D models of objects or persons on the basis of regular photographs.

According to Solem, it is a matter of calculating where the camera was positioned in relation to the object and then doing the geometry.

‘For faces it’s possible in principle to create 3D data on the basis of a single photograph, but most often we have worked with 5-10 still photos or with film sequences,’ said Solem.

He believes the technology is applicable to a number of fields.

‘Much of our research is geared to automating work at the computer. In city planning, for example, and architecture many hours of work are devoted to creating 3D models manually. If that process can be simplified, there will be incredible amounts of money saved. Another conceivable area of use is in gaming, where this technology would make it possible to put objects into the virtual world by photographing them,’ he said.

Solem founded Polar Rose to market the technology for recognising faces based on his research findings. The search engine will soon undergo beta testing, and will be launched by the end of he year.

‘Since there is no such search service in existence today, it’s going to be really exciting to see how it is received. And if it’s a success, then we’ll be saddled with the luxury problem of competing with giants like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo.’