Tuesday 10 January 2012

The aesthetics algorithm or rationalizing the eye of the beholder.

Kaunas 1
Kaunas 2

Which one of those two photos would you prefer? Which one of those two photos would I prefer? Xerox knows the answer.

The eye of the beholder has lost the crown  - your preferences have just been rationalized. Pure scientific analysis that one day will make Google Image Search like a trip to the gallery.

The idea is very exciting indeed and certainly hugely applicable. Yet, I would be greatly disappointed to find the software in my camera. It is those shit framed and poorly lit photos that generally produce the most interesting material. And they make the Google Image Search more exciting.

The aesthetics algorithm.

What is it?
The algorithm is a key part of a system that can sort photos by how aesthetically pleasing they are. The system's been developed at Xerox Research Center Europe in France.

How does the system work?
It studies photographs where the subject matter is known - pictures tagged "boat" or "flower" or Flickr., for example - and analyses their characteristics. This allows an algorithm - a set of instructions a computer can follow - to recognise other images in the same category.

What about aesthetics?
Images known to look good, such as examples rated as high quality on Flikr, are also analysed. Common characteristics are noted and used by algorithm for its selection. Those characteristics show a distict similarity to what experts already know makes a good photo.

Who would want to use this?
It could help you choose the best images from all those snaps you inevitably take while you 're on holiday. Or, if it is built into a camera, it could allow lower quality images to be wiper out instantly, so they don't clog your memory card. 

When will I be able to use this?
The system will be tested this year by Xerox's corporate partners, including photographic agencies and design firms. A more advanced version should be available commercially within two to four years.

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