Google Cloud Vision Helps Computers To ‘See’ Pictures

It's a lady and she is happy to be open for business in Italian -- Google knows that much just from the picture. Image: Google

It’s a lady and she is joyful about being open for business in Spanish – Google knows that much just from the picture. Image: Google

The Google GOOGL -1.66% Cloud Vision venture is developing. The project is designed to help computers ‘see’ images and understand what they depict and represent. Heavily aligned towards the needs of software application developers looking to incorporate image recognition and understanding into their apps, this is essentially part of emerging machine-learning technologies currently in their ascendancy.

The technology itself is developed by Google, but offered to software developers as an API (application programming interface) so that the intelligence can be embedded into other apps as they are built.

Is that a plate of sushi or a lion?

The Google Cloud Vision API itself is capable of ‘absorbing’ and seeing an image and then classifying it into one (or several) of thousands of categories. The technology here can scan an image’s typical components and constituent parts to decide if the computer is looking at a plate of sushi or a picture of a lion, for want of two random examples. This intelligence can also detect individual objects and faces within images and reads printed words contained within images.

Why bother? Well, lots of reasons… number one being our drive to create workable machine intelligence functions within the computer systems that we use day to day. But there are other good reasons for building computers than can see:

  1. Computers with seeing vision of this kind can detect human emotions, so ‘image sentiment analysis’ allows our machines to know whether we are happy or sad when using a particular application or service.

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