What Is #PhotoTime?


A computer vision company called
Orbeus has just launched a photo
gallery replacement app for iOS
users, PhotoTime , which uses image
and facial recognition technologies
to allow users to search for photos
based on who’s in them, what the
photo is of, or where it was taken.
This goes far beyond the
capabilities of Apple’s native
Photos app, which organizes photos
by location and time, but lacks an
understanding of what or who is in
the images.
The PhotoTime app also works with
pictures on iCloud, Instagram and
Facebook, in addition to those
saved locally on your device,
automatically scanning the images
for content and then assigning
them tags. When the initial setup
process is complete, you could do a
search for “dog,” for example, or
“selfie,” and the app returns all the
images matching that description.
You can also assign your own
custom tags to photos if you prefer
to do manual groupings.
Other companies have employed
facial recognition technology for
helping users identify photos –
including Facebook and Google (on
Google+) – and many services can
easily pull from an image’s
metadata to identify where and
when a photo was taken. But
identifying what’s in the photo – a
sunset? your dinner? an animal?,
etc. – is something fewer have
A popular app known as Everpix
was working on this feature just
before it was shut down when its
funding ran out . And we’ve also
seen apps like Impala working
on something similar, but in a less
polished way. (Impala’s app is
primarily meant to showcase its
image-recognition technology, not
function as a standalone business).
PhotoTime parent Orbeus , also the
creator of ReKognition , is largely
focused on the development of its
image-recognition technologies,
including its ability to label images
with keywords automatically; index
video using image-to-text
technology; recognize faces and
attributes including race, emotion,
age and gender; recognize objects
like animals and flowers; and
recognize scenes. This technology
is licensed to software and app
developers for a fee.
But PhotoTime is now the
company’s attempt at bringing
its technology to a consumer
audience more directly, as well as
demo its technology. (It previously
launched other apps to demo its
technology on iTunes, but, like
Impala, they lacked polish).
In order to process the photos it
analyzes, PhotoTime anonymizes
the photos before uploading them
to its cloud servers, where the
metadata is identified and the
algorithms are further trained.
However, as the app tells you upon
first launch, your photos are never
stored on PhotoTime’s servers;
they’re deleted after the analysis
A future PhotoTime release will
also include support for Dropbox
photos, the company says.
CEO Yi Li is joined by co-founders
and Boston University grads
Tianqiang Liu (VP of engineering),
previously of Visible Measures, and
Meng Wang (CTO), previously of
Mitsubishi Electronics Research
Laboratories. The company has
raised $1.5 million in funding,
according to SEC filings and
CrunchBase .
As for the app itself, it offers an
improved experience over Impala,
though doesn’t seem to be
optimized for iPhone 6 at this time.
Its accuracy, at least in my tests,
was fairly good, too – fewer false
positives than I’d expect with an
emerging technology like this. But
at the end of the day, it will take a
large company like Facebook or
Google to implement something
like this, as well, to reach a large
number of consumers.
PhotoTime is a free download here
on iTunes.


Ambuli Victor.


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