Some of you may already know about CamFind, a smartphone app (available for both Android and iOS based smartphones), that uses visual search technology to tell you what things are, and it can even tell you where you can buy them. It works a bit like any facial recognition app out there, only the CamFind app is not for people, but for objects. It seems a bit strange, but it is in fact a very interesting app that offers a new and innovative take on the ‘face recognition’ tech. Speaking of which, there are many such apps on Google Glass, the last one we talked about being , a facial recognition app that matches up potential couples, which recently received a Cease & Desist letter from Facebook.
Well, it seems that Image Searcher, the startup company that developed the CamFind app for smartphones, submitted it to Google Glass for approval. It must be said that Google specifically said that facial recognition apps for Glass will not be authorized (though face recognition apps can still be created and distributed separately by their developers); however, Image Searcher has a pretty good chance that its image recognition app, CamFind will be approved as it is not a face recognition app. It is instead an app that recognizes objects based on the picture you take with your smartphone (and soon with Google Glass). The app will recognize the objects and items and it will also give you a description (and other info) about them.
The Google Glass version of the CamFind app is going to be very easy to use. In order to open the CamFind app using Google Glass you will have to use the following voice command: “OK Glass, what do you see?” This voice command will prompt the CamFind app to take a picture using Glass’ camera and then it will search its servers for anything matching the elements of the image. If the app finds known items or objects in the image, it will offer the user search results to these particular items and objects; you will be able to see the search results in the Google Glass eyepiece.
The CamFind app labels each item or object from a given image by using tags and keywords and if the image is blurry or the app is not sure about an object or item, it will ask a human expert. Brad Folkens, chief technology officer mentioned in an interview that “Whenever we don’t have good confidence in the answer, we send it to the crowd [...] We use the humans to teach the computer how to answer the queries better. As time goes on, and we get more queries, we get better at answering the questions. We get much closer to 100 percent accuracy.” Also it usually takes about twelve seconds for the app to recognize an item or an object though Image Search hopes to improve the time. Also, the company has a staff of 12 employees that help the app identify items and objects but it also works with 151 contractors (64 from the United States and 87 from other parts of the world).
The company’s tech is available to all developers, via an api (applications programming interface). Image Searcher’s api for visual searching has already been downloaded by four hundred developers from around the world in the past year. It is also worth mentioning that the smartphone CamFind app has already been downloaded by over 1.6 million users; it is also interesting to note that as the number of users increases so does the number of visual searches and that could be a problem from a raw processing power point of view, though the company’s chief executive is confident that Image Searcher’s infrastructure (which is provided by business partners) will be able to sustain an even bigger number of searches, which is expected to happen once the CamFind app is approved on Google Glass.
For now you can only get the CamFind app on ios and Android based smartphones but as we mentioned in the beginning of this article, Image Searcher submitted the app for approval. This is actually pretty impressive for a two year old startup, as Image Searcher’s big rival in the world of image searching is none other than Google which obviously has a lot more resources available than the small company behind the CamFind app. Dominik Mazur, chief executive of Image Searcher is aware that “Google might in the future put a search tool on Glass.” but he is confident that CamFind will be better. At the moment nobody knows when we will be able to use CamFind on Glass as the app has just been submitted for approval; hopefully we won’t have to wait long. What are your thoughts regarding visual searching and the CamFind app? Leave a comment in the dedicated section below.