Face recognition technology isn't perfect yet.
That's certainly clear when using the "Faces" feature that is built into the recently released iPhoto '09.
Sure, the product does reasonably well at finding your friends and family in your photo collection. Tag a few photos by name and iPhoto comes up with other suggestions, often recognizing photos that are taken years apart and with vastly different looks. Heck, iPhoto even spotted me when I was a different gender.
The science behind face recognition is complex and still evolving. In general, face recognition software looks for predictable patterns--characteristics and proportions that stay constant from one photograph to another, things like the distance between the eyes or from the eyes to the mouth.
Even with things where the science is today, having help--any help--with the tedious task of tagging photos is welcome. And iPhoto can certainly find plenty of matches in your library, even if it won't spot them all.
But the real genius part is how Apple has made the process fun, even when the results aren't perfect.
Early speech recognition was also hit or miss, but it was painful to have to scream at a computer while it constantly misunderstood what you were trying to say. With face recognition, at least as built into iPhoto, the goofs are what make it fun.
The software frequently suggested that my contemporary friends and family were actually my 80-something cousin, my 90-something great aunt, or both. iPhoto also confused Bill Gates with our friend's 3-year-old. And among the suggestions for former CNET colleague Joris Evers was a shot of Wayne Gretzky that I had taken at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. … Read more