Amazon is trying to make it easier for people to find their favorite celebrities. To that end, the tech giant has updated its Rekognition facial recognition system to improve its ability to identify the faces of well-known public figures.
The new feature is geared toward media companies, and is designed to help them tag and categorize the photos and footage in their extensive archives. It will also improve the quality of the metadata associated with each image. For example, the improved Rekognition can gauge someone’s facial expression, and determine whether or not they are smiling, which will in turn make it easier for people to find an image with a particular tone or mood.
The service is expected to appeal to news agencies that may need to dig up old images of public figures as they become relevant to the news cycle, or to documentarians searching for old interviews or video highlights. Rekognition will allow people to sift through hundreds of hours of footage in a short amount of time, and will speed up the categorization process, which is incredibly time consuming when performed manually. As a result, the solution will help save money and turn those archives into usable assets for the organizations that possess them.
The updated Rekognition is more accurate, and has been trained to recognize a wider range of celebrities. It is now familiar with tens of thousands of public figures from all over the world, and offers search support for Europe, Japan, and the Asia Pacific region in addition to the United States. It can also add gender tags to the metadata for an image or a video.
Amazon is not the only facial recognition provider with a celebrity tracking feature. RealNetworks released a StarSearch browser extension in June of 2020, though the public-facing tool was designed primarily for consumers that want to identify familiar faces on streaming platforms, rather than the media companies that own the actual footage.
Amazon has previously come under fire for selling Rekognition to police. The company would eventually suspend sales to law enforcement in the wake of George Floyd’s murder (and the subsequent protests) last summer. The celebrity finder is less likely to raise privacy concerns, insofar as it is not being used for surveillance and is instead being applied to footage that has already been released to the public, though critics may still have some lingering doubts about the accuracy of the platform.
August 30, 2021 – by Eric Weiss