Archive for the ‘recognition’ tag
Norwegian officials are probing Facebook’s ever-improving facial recognition features, concerned that the tech may pose a threat to Norwegians’ privacy.
“If Facebook also monitors Norwegian users, it may be a violation of Norwegian privacy laws,” said Norwegian Data Protection Authority communications director Ove Skåra in a statement concerning Facebook’s other surveillance features on the agency’s website.
The Norwegian Data Protection Authority just took some time last month to investigate how Facebook stores and analyzes private messages and chats sent between users, but the agency’s focus on facial recognition is new.
“It’s a very powerful tool Facebook has, and it’s not yet clear how it all really works,” Norway data protection commissioner Bjorn Erik Thon told Bloomberg.
“They have pictures of hundreds of millions of people. What material Facebook has in its databases is something we need to discuss with them.”
The Norwegian Data Protection Authority has spent several years working directly with Facebook (specifically with the company’s European headquarters in Ireland) on privacy issues.
Facebook started making serious investments in its own facial recognition technology back in 2010. The company launched facial recognition back in July and photo tag suggestions later the same year. By June 2011, the feature was available in most countries around the globe.
Last month, the social network faced some tough questions on the tech during a Senate hearing led by privacy advocate Minnesota Senator Al Franken.
“I think this information is so sensitive that it’s the kind of thing users have to consciously opt themselves into,” he said.
Other networks, such as Google+, have conscientiously decided to make facial recognition an opt-in experience. “We recognize that Google has to be extra careful when it comes to these [privacy] issues,” said Find My Face project lead Hartmut Neven. “Face recognition we will bring out once we have acceptable privacy models in place.”
Filed under: social
“The one positive thing that this week has so far thrown light on is that there is a widespread recognition that things cannot stay the same.” — Keith Teare
Oh ye of little faith: For the many of us who BELIEVE in Consumer Internet, it’s so painful to watch the Facebook/Groupon/Zynga stock trainwreck continue, with Facebook shares slipping to below $20.00 today, the lowest they’ve ever been.
The concerns about Facebook’s viability as a company have been hashed and rehashed by people barely if at all qualified to do so. At this point, we underqualified tech writers know them by heart: It basically boils down to mobile insecurity, a 1/58 price-to-earnings ratio and whatever “I don’t trust Zuck” means, which makes
old fogies my parents conservative investors nervous.
But, the moment I figure out how, I still want to buy some Facebook stock at $20.00 because are you kidding me, that company is absolutely still growing despite almost no one seeing its potential value.
Imagine if every friend that you, or I, or anyone on Facebook had, were a red-hot opportunity to turn well-wishing into revenue. That’s the promise made by Karma, Facebook’s recently acquired physical gifting startup.
Facebook, you have the social graph. You have the users. You have the world. Now, all you need to do is give us an easy way to say “Happy Birthday.” With our wallets.
The very top mock-up is indicative of the potential that being able to monetize online social interaction/goodwill represents. While we have no idea what Karma’s revenue or profit was pre-acquisition, rumor has it that the startup was raking in a cut of between 20% – 40% per purchase before it got scooped up.
And now it has almost a billion users as a target market … if only some industrious engineer would build that very simple above link, and yes, figure out mobile.
If Facebook continues to make these kinds of strategic acquisitions — i.e. buys Fab next — it will win. And, if it can leverage the physical goods loophole on iOS, it can become the social shopping platform.
So buh bye lame “Social stories” and buh bye Amazon (which currently has a $100b market cap, around twice that of Facebook). Can someone please teach me how to buy Facebook stock now please? Because I believe in the future and you should too.
Disclosure: I pretty much think I only own Aol stock at the moment, but would like to buy Facebook stock, see above.
Also, there are exactly ten tickets left for our Facebook Ecosystem conference. Have at it.
Cortica, a company developing image recognition technology to improve ads, just announced that it has raised $7 million in new funding.
The money comes from Horizons Ventures, the firm owned by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing, and from Ynon Kreiz, the former chairman and CEO of the Endemol Group, which claims to the world’s largest independent TV production company. Kreiz is also joining Cortica as chairman.
Cortica’s technology analyzes images and videos to identify the core concepts, which can then be used to place ads alongside relevant media. For example, Cortica could analyze a photo of a Mini Cooper, understand that it is, in fact, a Mini Cooper, then overlay the photo with an ad for, yes, a Mini Cooper. Or it could analyze a photo of Sacha Baron Cohen, then match it up with an ad that plays the trailer for his new movie The Dictator.
The technology was first developed by neuroscientists Yehoshua (Josh) Zeevi and Karina Odinaev when they were at the Technion, a prestigious university in Israel. Zeevi and Odinaev co-founded the company with engineer Igal Raichelgauz, who is still the company’s CEO. Cortica says the tech “was derived from scientific research focused on understanding how neural networks of the human cortex perform complex computational tasks, such as identifying patterns, classifying natural signals and understanding concepts.”
Kreiz tells me the company has spent the last few years “fine-tuning the technology.” He claims that it’s so good at this point that it delivers zero false positives (i.e., it never incorrectly identifies what a photo is portraying). Now the time has come for commercialization — hence the funding — so Cortica is developing its own commercial applications, as well as talking to potential partners. As part of that commercialization, the Tel Aviv-based company is moving its commercial operations to New York, and it’s also opening an office in Silicon Valley.
Cortica has raised $11 million total.
Israeli startup Cortica raised $7 in a second round of funding. The investment was led by Horizons Ventures, not to be confused with Silicon Valley’s Horizon Ventures. Horizons Ventures (mind the “s”) is owned by the Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Ching. I mean Shing (again, mind the “s”). Venture capitalist Ynon Kreiz also participated in the round.
Cortica’s image recognition technology fuses neuroscience and computer science by imbuing computers the ability to comprehend visual content on the web in real-time. It was developed at Technion, a premier technology institute in Tel Aviv, by a crack team of neuroscientists, digital media experts, and former military intelligence personnel. The technology functions similarly to the human cortex and can identify patterns, make classifications, and understand James Joyce. Maybe not the last one.
With the money, members of the Cortica team will relocate to the US with people in New York and Silicon Valley.
Filed under: deals
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple two patents related to the operation of a digital camera, one which helps speed up auto-focus time based on object recognition and another for dynamic exposure metering.
One of my favorite parts of social media, particularly Facebook, is that is has a high levels of visual stimulation! As a designer I am drawn to images, but I suppose that the majority of the population is too. Facebook understands that we are visual creatures and as such has made sure to keep us happy with thumbnail images with each link we share, easy photo album uploading, the new Timeline layout and the latest greatest image feature: the cover photo!
The Facebook cover photo is a large image (851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall) taking center stage at the very top of your Facebook profile page. It is meant to be a visual representation for Facebook users. This is what Facebook has to say about their cover photo:
“We’ve found that people have a better experience viewing your timeline when they see a cover that is as unique and individualized as you are. This helps people learn more about you. It also helps us prevent spam, fake profiles, and other content that can detract from your experience on Facebook. An easy way to ensure your cover image is unique is to choose an image from your life, like a photo from a wedding, day at the beach, or birthday party.”
And while the cover photo is fun for anyone, brands in particular are having a really creative time using the cover photo as an extra layer of brand recognition. Most notably, we here at Web Marketing Therapy have been using the cover photo to highlight creative, “on brand” graphics. The WMT brand is smart, witty and fun and we like our images to highlight that aspect of what we do.
We have also used the cover photo as a way to introduce our latest, revamped Wild Web Women® brand. The Wild Web Women® are the women who run Web Marketing Therapy. The brand is us (we are Lorrie Thomas Ross, Nicki Gauthier, Darla Bea Smith, Jennie Jacobs, Mary Sandor, Anne Orfila and Kelly Kohen) so what better way to highlight us as the brand then to use our images!
Other great examples of building brand recognition and cultivating a feeling through the Facebook cover photo:
When designing your cover photo please keep these tricks in mind:
- Size is 851 pixels wide by 315 pixels tall. You can upload a larger image or one with a different size ratio, but keep in mind it will be cropped to this noted size when viewed from the timeline. All cover photo images must be at least 750 pixels wide to be uploaded.
- Brands take note, there are cover photo rules:
- No price, purchase information or coupon/discount shenanigans.
- No contact information. Email, phone number, website are out!
- No references to “Liking” “Sharing” or any other user interface features
- No calls to action.
- Be playful with your cover photo! Utilize fun graphics or images that showcase your brand in a creative way. Think of the cover photo as a visual representation of the feeling you want your brand to leave with visitors!
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From acquisitions to product changes, employee departures to new revenue generators, Facebook moves faster than just about any company in tech. In just three months since its IPO, it’s produced a staggering amount on news.
5/18: Facebook’s Acquisition of Karma Brings Mobile Commerce, App Monetization Prowess - Karma could help Facebook suggest real-world gifts to buy for your friends
5/19: Day After IPO, Mark Zuckerberg Marries Longtime Girlfriend Priscilla Chan - As Facebook’s CEO grows up and starts a family, he may mature into thinking more about Facebook as a business.
5/24: Facebook Acq-Hires Part Of Design Firm Bolt | Peters To Beef Up User Research Team - This could improve Facebook’s design and keep it from shocking users with hated product changes.
5/24: FB Launches Facebook Camera – An Instagram-Style Photo Filtering, Sharing, Viewing iOS App - The standalone could drive uploads of photos, one of Facebook’s biggest engagement drivers.
5/29: Facebook Faces Extended US Review of Instagram Deal [Reuters] - The deal is still pending review, though that doesn’t mean the acquisition is less likely to go through.
5/31: Facebook Finally Cracks Down On Auto-Sharing Spam With “10-Second Rule” - A wise move that preserved the user experience but could hurt some social app growth.
6/1: Facebook Forced By Privacy Activist To Put Policy Changes Up For Worldwide Vote - This shows Facebook still has thorns in its side, though an inclusive vote allowed Facebook to implement changes.
6/4: Facebook Explores Giving Kids Access [WSJ] - Opening access to kids under age 13 could boost user counts and attract a new class of advertisers.
6/4: Salesforce Lines Up Against Oracle On Social Push; Buys Buddy Media For $689M - Even if soggy IPOs will discourage social tech companies to go public, there are still big exits to be had.
6/5: App Devs, Grab Your Credit Cards: You Can Now Buy Mobile-Only Ads On Facebook - Facebook courts advertisers by letting them choose to show ads only on mobile.
6/7: Facebook’s New App Center Is Here: The Details - Facebook launches its own social version of the App Store for helping users discover web and mobile apps.
6/7: Facebook’s Mobile Power: 83M People And 134M Clicks To iOS Apps In May, Plus Top Leaderboard Spots: This proves Facebook is a powerful ally for both iOS and Android.
6/11: Apple Gives Facebook Deep Integration Into iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion With Siri, Sharing, App Store, API - This shows signs of a growing Facebook – Apple alliance.
6/11: Facebook Picks Up The Mobile Development Team From Pieceable - Pieceable allowed users to preview mobile apps from the desktop and could bolster Facebook’s App Center
6/13: Facebook Exchange: A New Way For Advertisers To Target Specific Users With Real-Time Bid Ads - Retargeted ads on Facebook could bring in loads of direct advertising spend.
6/15: Facebook CTO Bret Taylor Leaving To Do His Own Thing - Though some considered Taylor to be a figurehead, it shows some talent may be slipping away to startup land.
6/18: Facebook Scoops Up Face.com For $55-60M To Bolster Its Facial Recognition Tech - This could bring facial recognition to Facebook mobile, and power a facial recognition API
6/18: Here’s How A Facebook Hyper-Local Mobile Ad Product Would Target You - An unconfirmed rumor, but this could pull in huge spend by helping local businesses target people in sight.
6/18: Report: Over 24% Of The Web’s Top 10,000 Sites Now Use Facebook’s Official Widgets - The social network has conquered a quarter of the web, which could seed a rollout of an ad network.
6/19: They Work! Facebook Mobile Ads Are Clicked 13X More, Earn 11X More Money Than Its Desktop Ads - Proof Facebook may have a bright future in mobile advertising and monetization after all.
6/20: After Facebook’s IPO Flub, Value Of Tech Startups Falls Back To Earth [The Verge] - Between poor public performance of Facebook, Zynga, and others, late stage valuations may get more logical.
6/21: Problems For Monetization: Lawsuit Forces Facebook To Let You Opt Out Of Sponsored Story Ads - You’ll only be able to opt out of being used in ads one story at a time, though, so not crippling.
6/22: Facebook Ads and Sponsored Stories Are Now Running On Zynga.com, Previewing A FB Ad Network - If expanded to more sites, the ad network could become a huge money maker.
6/23: Why Facebook Is Folding On Credits And Doubling Down On Payments - Facebook abandons its own virtual currency, switching to local currencies for payments and adding subscriptions.
6/25: Facebook Hides Your Personal Email Addresses, Leaving Only @Facebook.com Visible On Profile - Facebook promotes its email/messaging system, and hides Gmail addresses in a blow to Google.
6/25: Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Long-Time COO, Becomes First Woman On Its Board Of Directors - This demonstrates how Facebook prefers promoting leaders from within.
6/27: Facebook Plans To Speed Up Its iPhone App [NYTimes] - Facebook is planning a major back-end update to quicken its notoriously slow iPhone app.
6/27: Facebook Now Lets You “Like” and “Follow” Someone In Any App, Get Their Updates In News Feed - All part of Facebook’s plan to become the only news feed you need, and monetize attention with ads.
7/6: Yahoo and Facebook Confirm Deal To Cross-License Their Patent Portfolios, Sell Ads Together - With Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson gone, the two bury the hatchet and embark on big partnership.
7/11: Facebook Groups Start Showing Exactly Who Saw Each Post - If this moves to the news feed, it could make Facebook communication more lifelike, but some users could find it creepy.
7/11: Facebook Finally Redesigns Events, Adds Calendar and List Views - It’s one of Facebook’s most unique and powerful features, but hadn’t gotten a big update in years.
7/12: The Facebook Tweak That Killed A Billion-Dollar Industry [CNN Money] - The switch to the Timeline design for Pages reduced traffic to some Page apps by up to 90%.
7/16: Facebook’s Latest Acqui-Hire: Spool, The “Instapaper On Steroids” - Along with its acquihire of Acrylic, Spool could help Facebook build an internal “read it later” service.
7/18: Facebook Earns 58% More Per Ad Than Last Year - Demand for Facebook ads keeps rising, allowing it to make more money without adding more users.
7/19: Facebook Begins Testing Sponsored Results, Its First Search Typeahead Ads - A new ad format that could compete with Google Sponsored Search Results.
7/20: Facebook Acqui-Hires Mac and iOS Developer Acrylic Software - Acrylic was the one-man team who built personalized content saving apps Pulp and Wallet
7/20: Nasdaq to Release Compensation Plan for Investors Hurt by Facebook IPO Mess [Fox Business] - The IPO was a mess and NASDAQ was partly to blame.
7/24: Facebook Open Graph Leader Director Of Product Management Carl Sjogreen Leaves - This signals some Facebook leaders are exiting after the IPI. Sjogreen’s planning to launch a new startup.
7/24: Facebook Opens First International Engineering Office In London - The office will let it grab top engineering talent from Europe without introducing a language barrier between teams.
7/25: Zynga Explains “Challenging” Q2: Facebook Platform Changes - Facebook aiding discovery of new apps over the most popular ones led to revenue decreases, causing its stock price to plummet.
Google has just released a new feature that falls into the “cooler than it is practical” category of updates. It’s called Handwrite, and it’s the ability to search Google simply by writing on your mobile phone or tablet screen.
When I saw this, my first thought was, ‘wow, we’re moving backwards.’ Think about it. We developed voice recognition to get the hands out of the process. Driving? No problem, just tell Google what you want. Carpel Tunnel? No handwork involved. Easy.
But Google insists that there are times when voice activation and even keyboard use is impractical.
“Say you’re standing on a busy street corner, in a bumpy taxi ride, talking with a friend, or sitting on the couch with your tablet.”
Cause, you know how tricky it can be to use your iPad when you’re sitting on the couch in your living room. (??)
Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say you’re in one of these precarious situations and you have a desperate need to search. Simply activate Handwrite from the Google Search Settings control panel, then write on your mobile or tablet screen with your finger.
Actually, it’s more like, huh. . . that’s interesting because it’s not as simple as Google makes it sound. Maybe it’s because I have chubby fingers, but I had a hard time getting it to correctly interpret my handwriting. If you print and pause between letters it begins to search before your done. If you write quickly in cursive, you can get the whole word out before the search kicks in but if you’re sloppy you’ll end up with “bow” instead of “ben” and “Cynthia” turned into “arte.” Got me on that one.
With some practice, I found a pace that worked more often than not and that was when I decided this was wacky and pretty darned cool.
I imagine it would work even better if you had a stylus, particularly if you were doing it on an iPhone. I tried it on my iPad and I needed the whole screen to write a single word. Anything longer than five letters and I had to write it in sections. This works, because when you pause, the letters translate and then disappear from the screen. Put in enough letters and Google reads your mind and fills in the rest for you.
So SU-pause-PER-pause- NAT – got me to my favorite TV show, Supernatural.
I imagine there will be people in specific situations that will find this tool very useful. I can’t think of one of those situations, but I’m sure they exist. If you have pre-schoolers at home, they can use it to practice writing the alphabet and spelling simple words. That’s assuming we still teach kids to write by hand.
Cursive, it’s kind of a lost art.
Even though Nuance’s technology is powering the speech recognition revolution across iOS and Android, the company hasn’t forgotten about its bread-and-butter software suite.
Today Nuance announced Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12, the latest entry in the long-running voice-recognition software series, which boasts 20 percent better accuracy than the previous version. Overall, the company says the new release has over 100 new features.
If you’re upgrading from an earlier version of Dragon, the accuracy benefits are even better: the company says the new version of the software is 35 percent more accurate than Dragon 10, 55 percent more accurate that Dragon 9, and 75 percent more accurate then Dragon 8 (which, to be fair, was released way back in 2004).
Unsurprisingly, performance is also dramatically improved. Not only will Dragon perform better on the same hardware as previous versions, it can also adapt to better hardware. If you have a computer with a quad core processor and 4 gigabytes of RAM, Dragon will automatically use the fastest speech model, according to Nuance’s senior manager of corporate communications Erica Hill.
Having used earlier versions of Dragon in the past (and training plenty of users on it as well), I decided to give the new version of spin for writing much of this post. The setup process is still pretty much the same: the installation takes about 5 to 10 minutes, but you’ll have to spend 15 minutes or so training the dictation. While annoying, the training period is worth it — otherwise Dragon is nowhere near as accurate as it could be.
Based on my first impressions, Dragon 12 is definitely far more accurate than Dragon 10 from the get-go. After my initial training, Dragon rarely stumbled with complex words or expressions. Indeed, dictation feels more natural this time around (it helps that Nuance bundles a decent Plantronics headset in the box) — though editing text using your voice still remains a chore. You’ll still need to do a final editing pass on most text with a keyboard, but that will obviously be less necessary as you use Dragon and get used to its quirks.
While Dragon previously adapted to your speech mannerisms over time, the software is even smarter now thanks to a new feature called Smart Format Rules. Dragon 12 will keep track of your word, phrase and format corrections, which should ultimately make its dictations indistinguishable from your own writing style.
Among other new features, Dragon 12 now supports Wideband Bluetooth audio, which will enable a 25 percent increase in accuracy for compatible wireless headsets. The software now also works better with Gmail and Hotmail on recent versions of Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. Nuance has also released an Android version of its Dragon Remote Mic app, which lets you use your phone as a Dragon input on your computer.
Given just how much more ubiquitous speech recognition is becoming in mobile devices thanks to Nuance, I’m hoping the company steps it up with a more modern-looking Dragon for the next version. With the release of Mountain Lion yesterday, Apple has also made Nuance-powered dictation a standard part of its OS, which makes the Dragon suite even less relevant.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 is available for pre-order now and will ship the week of August 13 starting at $99.99.
Photo via Shutterstock
Filed under: VentureBeat
Hulu released a new, chromeless video player on Saturday, in an effort to improve the viewing experience for users of its web site. The new player is designed to give viewers easier access to their settings, and has also added a 10-second rewind feature to enable viewers to quickly skip back and re-watch their favorite moments of a program.
The new player groups all of a video’s settings — facial recognition, closed captioning, and the like — all in one place, and the player automatically detects and adjusts video quality based on the available bandwidth. And when you pause a video, the player highlights program and episode information, along with how much time is left in the show or movie you’re watching.
When shows finish, Hulu now lets you choose from a group of comparable shows to watch next, or lets users auto-play the next selection, making the experience more like watching TV uninterrupted. For instance, at the end of an episode of The Office, I was recommended new episodes of fellow NBC comedies Parks And Recreation and Community.
But one of the most important new features is the 10-second rewind feature, which lets users quickly skip back and re-watch certain moments of a show — for instance, if there was a funny joke, or if they maybe missed a crucial line in a drama. Being able to skip back without pausing or scrubbing the timeline of the video player is pretty cool.
Even though Hulu’s focused on expanding availability of its content on tablets and connected TV devices, it still get a sizable audience on its website. Video players on the web have come a long way over the years, and Hulu’s interface just continues to improve. I mean, can you believe the Hulu player used to look like this? It looks positively clunky by comparison.